The two men were abducted outside the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, where they worked as teachers.

Photo developed by TRT world taken from video released on Wednesday June 21, 2017 by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid showing kidnapped teachers Australian Timothy Weekes, left, and American Kevin King, who were both abducted by insurgents in August 2016.
Photo developed by TRT world taken from video released on Wednesday June 21, 2017 by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid showing kidnapped teachers Australian Timothy Weekes, left, and American Kevin King, who were both abducted by insurgents in August 2016. (TRT World / TRTWorld)

Afghanistan will release two senior Taliban commanders and a leader of the Haqqani group in exchange for an American and an Australian professor who were kidnapped in 2016, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Tuesday.

The two men – an American identified as Kevin King and an Australian man identified as Timothy Weekes – were abducted outside the American University in Kabul in 2016.

The decision to free top commander Anas Haqqani and two other Taliban commanders in a prisoner swap could pave the way for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

"In order to pave the way for face-to-face negotiations with the Taliban, the government has decided to free Taliban prisoners in exchange for two university professors," Ghani said.

The prisoner exchange comes at a time when efforts were being made to revamp peace talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Haqqani network has in recent years carried out large-scale attacks on civilians. It is believed to be based in Pakistan and is part of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Source: Reuters