Conflicts & War

Turkey delays Afghan peace conference after Taliban reluctance

Istanbul, Apr 21 (EFE).- Turkey Wednesday said it had delayed a conference on Afghanistan until the end of the Ramadan fasting month after the Taliban refused to attend the much-awaited peace talks.

The conference was to begin from Sunday in Istanbul, but the Taliban last week warned that they would boycott if the United States did not adhere to the May 1 deadline for troops withdrawal.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said they consulted with the United Nations, the United States, and Qatar for holding the talks post the Eid holidays after the end of the month of fasting in mid-May.

“We decided to postpone the conference until after the (Eid) holidays,” Çavusoglu said.

“The conference without the participation of the Taliban would be meaningless,” he said.

He said they delayed the conference as there was no clarity “over the formation of the delegations and participation.”

The minister did not announce future dates for the conference.

Çavusoglu said there were hopes that the conference would usher in an Afghan peace agreement in Turkey, “but this is not an easy process.”

The conference, jointly convened by the US, Turkey, Qatar, and the UN, was scheduled to be held in Istanbul from Apr.24 to May 4.

The overriding objective of the Istanbul conference on the Afghan peace process was to accelerate and complement the ongoing intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha.

However, the Taliban has not only decided to boycott the Turkey conference, but also warned of attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan after May 1.

US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that Washington would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by Sep.11, although the original deadline in the Doha agreement was May 1.

The decision has infuriated the Taliban, who have threatened to resume attacks against international forces and not participate in peace negotiations if the US did not pull out troops before May.

“If they violate the agreement and do not withdraw by May 1, without doubt we will be obliged to engage in actions to work for the freedom of our country through military means,” Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid told EFE. EFE

iut/ssk

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