March 11 (UPI) -- Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has signed a decree to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners in order to begin intra-Afghan peace talks with the militant group that could see the end of the nearly two-decade war in the Middle Eastern country.
"President Ghani has signed the decree that would facilitate the release of the Taliban prisoners in accordance with an accepted framework for the start of negotiation between the Taliban and the Afghan government," Ghani's spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said in a statement.
The decree follows the start of U.S. troop withdrawal earlier Tuesday under terms of a peace deal signed late last month with the Taliban. In return, the Taliban agreed to talks with the Afghan government, something it has refused to do, calming it to be a puppet of the U.S. government.
The talks were scheduled to start Tuesday in Norway but were postponed due to a political dispute in Afghanistan and Ghani's reluctance to release the prisoners. Earlier, Ghani balked at the release of prisoners, which was followed by the Taliban launching 33 attacks that resulted in several civilian deaths.
According to Sediqqi, Ghani signed "on the occasion of the start of peace talks," stating before the prisoners can be released they must sign a written commitment "not to return to the ranks of war."
Sediqqi said the Afghan government will release 100 Taliban prisoners every day over the 15 days starting Saturday until all 1,500 are released. Once negotiations begin, the Afghan government will release 500 Taliban detainees every two weeks until all remaining 3,500 prisoners have been released provided that the Taliban continue to refrain from committing violence, he said.
The Taliban previously agreed to release 1,000 prisoners.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad confirmed the decree was issued via Twitter, urging both sides to "sit down immediately" to work out the details of the prisoner swap.
The agreement comes as Ghani and rival Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah held dueling inaugurations on Monday as both have claimed victory in last year's presidential election though Ghani was declared the winner by the country's electoral commission and has the backing of the international community.