The Afghan government has agreed to participate in an international conference in Istanbul next month.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met with Taliban deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha on Sunday.
US Special Representative for the Afghan peace process Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently in Qatar to participate in the resumption of the intra-Afghan talks, was also present at the meeting.
According to Qatar’s News Agency [QNA], the two officials discussed the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the delayed peace process.
Negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban are being held in Qatar for the second time after the two sides decided to take a break in December, following months of talks that began in September. The first round of talks started in 2019.
However, there is now more international pressure to jumpstart the talks, with Istanbul set to host a senior-level conference next month, a proposition of the Joe Biden administration.
Russia is also planning a high-profile conference in Moscow on March 18th.
So far, the Afghan government has confirmed its participation in the proposed peace conference in Turkey, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal [WSJ] citing Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib. Qatar has also been invited as an honoured guest.
“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.
Meanwhile, in a separate press conference held on Thursday, Qatar’s foreign minister said the meetings seek to push towards further progress in the Afghan peace process.
While no further details were disclosed on the Istanbul meeting, the Russian conference will be attended by representatives of the Afghan government, the Taliban, Russia, the United State, China and Pakistan.
The meetings will likely discuss the latest US proposal to form an interim government in hopes of ending the decades-long-war.