PAKISTAN has agreed to free some Afghan Taliban prisoners who could be useful in reconciliation efforts, officials from both countries said.

The move is the clearest sign yet Islamabad will put its weight behind the troubled Afghan peace process.

"Pakistan has sent us a very strong message and has agreed in principle to start releasing prisoners," Abdul Hamid Mubarez, a member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, said.

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He did not say how many prisoners would be released but predicted the action would help advance the peace process.

The decision to release the prisoners was a major achievement for the Afghan High Peace Council, which has been struggling to ease mistrust between the Taliban and the Kabul Government.