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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Taliban to attend Istanbul summit if end negotiations take place in Doha: reports

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Sources have revealed that the Taliban is set on attending the Istanbul summit, but wants end negotiations to take place in Doha. 

The Taliban is all set to attend the Istanbul summit on the condition that the final outcome is achieved in Qatar, sources told Tolo News.

The militant group agreed to resume substantive talks with the Afghanistan government delegation in Doha in the next few days after a stalemate brought peace talks to a halt.

“I think that this will open the way for an Istanbul conference where the Taliban will attend. They might make the agenda based on who in the Afghan government team will attend, not based on the US agenda,” said former Taliban commander Sayed Akbar Agha.

Spokespersons for the government have also expressed hope for the continued discussions, but only if there are high levels of participation from both sides.

“A meeting will be meaningful when the attendees include decision-makers and when there is a commitment for decision making. Only participation of high-ranking leaders can affect the current Doha process,” said member of the negotiating team of the Afghan government Fawzia Koofi.

Following a halt in peace talks, negotiators from the Taliban and the Afghanistan government met in Doha on Friday, the second day of a three-day ceasefire announced by the Taliban to mark Eid Al-Fitr.

On the same day of the negotiations, an explosion at a mosque in Kabul killed 12 people and injured 15 in the capital’s Shakar Dara district.

Read also: Taliban declares three-day Eid ceasefire following deadly attacks

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the Saturday attack via its Nasheer news agency, and said its members placed an explosive device inside the mosque and triggered it after worshippers gathered to pray on the second day of Eid al-Fitr.

The ceasefire ended on Saturday and so far no clashes between the Taliban and the Afghan government has been reported.

The mosque attack comes only a few days after bombings outside a school in Kabul killed up to 85 people and injured more than 165 others, most of whom were school students.

The blasts were said to be caused by a car bomb and two improvised explosive devices planted in the majority Shia Hazara populated community in the Dasht-e-Barchi area, according to a spokesperson from Afghanistan’s ministry of interior.

No group claimed responsibility for that attack and the Taliban denied involvement in the bombings. However, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani pointed the blame at the insurgent group.

The school attack, the deadliest in over a year, comes amid a surge in violence since US President Joe Biden’s announcement to pull out all 2,500 American troops, as well as other NATO forces, by September 11th.
This is instead of the May 1st deadline that was stipulated in a February agreement signed with the Taliban in Doha last year, prompting anger from the insurgent group who accused Washington of violating the 2020 accord.

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