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Wednesday Apr 21 2021
By
AFP

Turkey says Afghan peace talks in Istanbul postponed to after Ramadan

By
AFP
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks during a press conference. Photo: File

  • Turkey had first announced the conference, co-sponsored by United Nations and Qatar, to run from April 24 to May 4.
  • Turkey's foreign minister says postponement would give both sides time to prepare their list of names.
  • Leaked US State Department report said US wants Turkey conference to approve a plan to replace Ashraf Ghani with an interim govt involving Taliban.


ISTANBUL: Turkey announced on Tuesday that an international peace conference on Afghanistan which was due to start on April 24 in Istanbul will now be held after Ramadan.

"We decided to postpone the talks" until celebrations for the holy month of Ramadan end in mid-May, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told HaberTurk television in an interview.

The postponement comes after the US administration of President Joe Biden last week announced the withdrawal of all American forces from Afghanistan before this year's 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Turkey had first announced the conference, co-sponsored by the United Nations and Qatar, to run from April 24 to May 4.

Read more: Turkish FM says he will call Afghan counterpart to discuss NATO talks

But Cavusoglu said: "We believed it would be useful to postpone" after consultations with Doha, the UN and Washington.

"There's no need to rush," he added.

Ankara said the talks would be between representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban.

Last week, the Taliban when contacted said the group had still not completed internal consultations over whether to attend the conference.

Cavusoglu said the postponement would give both sides time to prepare their list of names, referring to a "lack of clarity" over who would attend the conference.

Asked if the Taliban would join the talks, he said: "Of course. Would this conference have a meaning without the Taliban's presence?"

Read more: Turkey plans to host Afghan peace talks in April, appoint special envoy

The US is trying to add urgency to long-stalled peace talks ahead of its planned end to military involvement in Afghanistan which began in response to the 2001 terror attacks on Washington and New York.

Biden has pledged to remove the last American troops from Afghanistan — a force currently made up of around 2,500 personnel — within six months.

A leaked US State Department report said Washington wanted the Turkey conference to approve a plan to replace the present leadership of President Ashraf Ghani with an interim government involving the Taliban.

Read more: Be careful of 'spoilers' who do not want peace in Afghanistan, Qureshi warns Afghan FM

Before the postponement was announced, State Department spokesman Ned Price said "there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, and only through a political settlement, and a comprehensive ceasefire, will we be able to support a resolution that brings security, stability, and prosperity to the people of Afghanistan."

He said the Istanbul conference was "part of that broader effort, that broader engagement" towards a political settlement.