The Afghan Taliban released two Western hostages in southern Afghanistan Tuesday, handing them over to USA forces more than three years after they were abducted in Kabul, insurgent sources and police told AFP.
Mr Weeks' father Mervyn was notified of his release in a phone call from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The three included Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of the Taliban's deputy Sirajuddin Haqqani, who also leads the fearsome Haqqani network.
"The two professors are safely freed and are being taken care of now", said a senior Afghan official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
King started teaching there in 2014 and Weeks had only started his role about a month before the kidnapping took place, the university said in a statement calling for their release shortly after their abduction.
The Haqqani Network is an offs-hoot of the Taliban, wielding significant clout in the insurgency entering its 19th year. In 2015, when prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was freed in a similar swap, Alpha Squadron from the Army's elite Delta Force handled the pickup, which the Taliban videotaped and released afterward.
King, the American, and Timothy J. Weeks were teachers at the American University in Kabul when they were abducted in 2016 in an attack that left 13 others dead.
There was no immediate comment from the USA embassy in Afghanistan.
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The arrangement is seen by the Afghan government as a key move in securing direct talks with the Taliban, which has so far refused to engage with what it calls a "puppet" regime in Kabul.
In the video, King said USA officials "can exchange us for some prisoners in Bagram", referring to a military prison in Afghanistan where many Taliban insurgents are held. Special forces raids had repeatedly come close to freeing the men, as hostage videos showed they were in declining health.
President Ghani also announced the release would be conditional and should pave the ground for face on face talks between government delegation and the Taliban to find negotiated settlement for the country's lingering crisis.
The Taliban met with a United States envoy in the Pakistani capital, the first such encounter since President Donald Trump a seemingly imminent peace deal to end Afghanistan's 18-year war was dead.
Ghani in his discussions with Pompeo and O'Brien said he wanted a reduction in violence and an all-out cease-fire, his spokesman said. They include Paul Overby, who is believed held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, Jeffery Woodke, a missionary taken hostage in Niger by ISIS, and a third US citizen whose name and circumstances are not public. Their father, Jalaluddin Haqqani, was a USA ally during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
A file image of Australian professor Timothy Weekes in a hostage video released by the Taliban.
"AUAF welcomes the news of the release of our colleagues, Kevin King and Timothy Weeks, who had been held hostage since August 7, 2016", the statement said.