Turkey says Taliban, Afghan govt to attend peace talks on April 24 

Reuters
Ankara   Published: Apr 14, 2021, 12:06 AM(IST)

Representative Image Photograph:( DNA )

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The 10-day summit includes the United Nations and Qatar as part of a US-backed push to jump-start talks ahead of a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan

The Taliban and Afghanistan's government will attend peace talks in Istanbul from April 24 to May 4 meant to jump-start a peace process and sketch out a possible political settlement, host Turkey said on Tuesday.  

The 10-day summit includes the United Nations and Qatar as part of a US-backed push to jump-start talks ahead of a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.  

On Monday, the Taliban said it was unwilling, based on timing, to attend talks in Turkey initially scheduled for April 16.  

"Participation in the conference and its agenda have been the subject of extensive consultations with the Afghan parties," Turkey's foreign ministry said.  

The talks are meant to end the conflict, pave the way to a 'just a durable' political settlement and 'accelerate and complement' ongoing intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, it said.  

It is an "opportunity for all partners to reiterate support for the people of Afghanistan on their path toward inclusive peace, stability, and prosperity," the ministry added in a statement. 

Officials worry that violence in the country will surge if an agreement is not reached soon. 

The US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been travelling the region to drum up support for a ceasefire and peace settlement that could include an interim government ahead of the May 1 deadline. 

US President Joe Biden has said it would be 'hard' to withdraw troops by then, but that it was unlikely they would remain in Afghanistan next year. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has held a series of calls with counterparts including the United States and some Gulf Arab nations over the past week to invite them to the talks and drum up support.  

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