The US on Tuesday welcomed the release of two hostages by the Taliban in Afghanistan, describing it a hopeful sign for efforts to end the decades-long conflict in the country.
American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, both professors at the American University in Kabul, were kidnapped at gunpoint in August 2016.
Both men were successfully recovered on Tuesday and are currently receiving medical care and other support from the United States Government.
"Both men were successfully recovered this morning, are in the care of the US military, and will soon be reunited with their loved ones, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
"We pray for the full recovery of both men, who endured significant hardship during their captivity, and wish them well as they reunite with their loved ones in the near future, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.
In a statement, Pompeo said the Taliban have indicated that the release of the two professors is intended as a goodwill gesture, which the United States welcomes.
"Additionally, we welcome the Taliban's impending release of 10 Afghan prisoners, and the Afghan government's release of 3 Taliban prisoners. We see these developments as hopeful signs that the Afghan war, a terrible and costly conflict that has lasted 40 years, may soon conclude through a political settlement," Pompeo said.
Both Pompeo and the White House commended Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the Afghan government for working to strengthen and reform Afghanistan's security forces.
"During the past two years, President Ghani extended an offer to talk to the Taliban without preconditions. He also called for a ceasefire during the Muslim holiday of Eid-ul-Fitr in 2018, which the Taliban reciprocated. The public's grateful reaction to that interruption in the violence dramatically illustrated their overwhelming desire for peace, he said.
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