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Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday confirmed that three leaders of the Haqqani Network were “conditionally” freed from prison and would be swapped for the release of a US and an Australian professor who were abducted by the terror group here in August 2016.

Ghani named the prisoners as Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid, Xinhua news agency.

“The decision was taken in close consultation with our international partners, including the US, to pave the ground for direct talks with the Taliban and to find a negotiated settlement for Afghanistan’s crisis,” Ghani said in an address broadcast live in state-run RTA TV.

Ghani did not give details where and when the swap of the prisoners will take place, saying the exchange would be on conditions for the safe release of the professors.

The two lecturers worked in the American University of Afghanistan.

Anas Haqqani is the son of the late Jalaluddin Haqqani, former leader of the Haqqani Network.

As a Taliban-linked militant group, the Haqqani Network is mostly operating in eastern provinces and the capital Kabul and responsible for many high-profile attacks on security forces.

The network was designated as a terrorist group by the US in 2012.

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