Afghanistan’s grand assembly, the Loya Jirga, approved the release of 400 Taliban prisoners Sunday, creating conditions to begin peace talks in the war-torn country.   “In order to remove an obstacle, the start of the peace process and an end of bloodshed, the Loya Jirga approves the release of 400 Taliban,” assembly resolution said. The Loya Jirga was called into session Friday in the capital, Kabul, to discuss the release of Taliban prisoners, ahead of peace talks.    The Afghan government has released almost 5,000 Taliban prisoners so far. FILE – Prisoners are released from Bagram Prison in Parwan province, Afghanistan, May 26, 2020.Meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be reduced to “a number less than 5,000” by the end of November.    The reduction in force comment was made by the defense chief in an interview broadcast Saturday on “Fox News.”    FILE – U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army (ANA) Base in Logar province, Afghanistan, Aug. 7, 2018.Earlier last week, President Donald Trump said in an interview with Axios that he would like to see the approximately 8,600 U.S. troops in Afghanistan decreased by “anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000.”   The news of the plan to draw down U.S. troops comes as efforts continue to begin negotiations between the Taliban and Afghanistan officials to bring an end to the decades-long fighting in the South Asian nation.