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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Afghan govt accepts Biden proposal for Turkey ‘peace conference’: reports


Russia will also be hosting a high-profile meeting on March 18th, with Qatar invited as an honoured guest.

The Afghan government confirmed its participation in the proposed peace conference with the Taliban in Turkey in April, the Wall Street Journal reported [WSJ].

Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib said his delegation agreed to attend the conference in Istanbul as well as the meeting in Russia on March 18th, the WSJ reported.

Attendees of both conferences are yet to be finalised.

“If the Taliban sends negotiators from Doha, the Afghan government will also send its delegates that are currently in the Qatari capital,” he told a press conference.

Read also: Russia to host Afghan summit to jumpstart peace process

The conference was one of the proposals carried by Joe Biden’s Administration through US Special Representative for the Afghan peace process Zalmay Khalilzad, who visited Afghanistan and Qatar in efforts to push for an end to the 20-year conflict.

Khalilzad’s visit aimed to jumpstart stalled talks between the government and the Taliban after months of delays.

A push for resolution

At a press conference between foreign ministers of Russia, Qatar and Turkey in Doha on Thursday, the diplomats addressed the senior-level meetings.

Responding to a question on whether the conferences in Moscow and Istanbul will replace Doha’s continuous efforts to facilitate the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country is not competing.

“We all want the tragedy in Afghanistan to end as soon as possible. This is another example of what the consequences of democratisation that non-regional countries are trying to bring, look like in practice. We are not competing with Qatar or anyone else here. We do not speak here from positions that can be made the subject of some kind of jealousy,” he said.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani added that the meetings seek to push towards further progress in the Afghan peace process.

While no further details were disclosed about the Istanbul meeting, the Russian conference will be attended by representatives of the Afghan government, the Taliban,  Russia, the United State, China and Pakistan. Qatar has also been invited as an honoured guest.

Interim government

Khalilzad’s visit also carried a proposal to form an interim government, a suggestion that was also supported by Moscow.

Despite that, a Taliban spokesperson questioned the effectiveness of the interim government which the group has described to be unsuccessful in the past.

“One need only look at our country’s past experiences over the last 40 years and the wars it has witnessed. Transitional governments were formed after the American occupation, some of them transitional, others participatory, but none of them have solved the country’s problems,” Muhammad Naim said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Sunday.

Talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban kicked off in Qatar in September last year to end almost two decades of war between the two parties.

With proposals still unconfirmed, analysts believe that the latest round of talks between the warring factions will determine the path of the peace process.

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