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Turkey to Host Afghan Peace Conference on March 27 – Taliban Confirm Participation

Hopes High on Turkey Meeting to End War

By Mujeeb R. Awrang

KABUL: In the wake of the U.S.’s new proposal for the Afghan peace process and formation of the next government system, some top anonymous sources in the government talked about a senior meeting similar to the Bonn-Conference to be hosted by Turkey on March 27.

The meeting would be led by the United Nations, where the elements involved in the Afghan peace process including the regional countries, would participate. The sources, talking on condition of anonymity, said that the U.S. put March 27 as a deadline for the Afghan conflictive parties to mull over the new proposal. The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad is currently in Doha, the capital city of Qatar to facilitate the meeting on its due time.

The U.S. proposal for the Afghan peace process was offered in a letter to President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. The letter said then that the U.S. would ask the UN to convene foreign ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Iran, India and the United States to discuss a unified progress in support for peace in Afghanistan.

However, the proposal was shared with some Afghan politicians by the US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad during his visit to Afghanistan and a number of regional countries.

Khalilzad also shared the proposal with the Afghan war parties, the government and the Taliban. Sources privy to the Taliban group said that they have agreed to participate in an Istanbul meeting to be convened on March 27th. But the Afghan government is yet to announce its stance. Sources said that the high council for national reconciliation, which continues the peace process under the government leadership, is considering the decision whether to participate in the meeting.

The Istanbul meeting would mainly focus on formation of a translational government of peace. The countries involved in the Afghan peace and top Afghan politicians, as well as a Taliban delegation led by the group’s deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar would participate in the meeting. The regional countries also have not announced their stance regarding the Istanbul meeting.

But the main question is that will Ghani’s administration attend the meeting?

The Istanbul meeting and the U.S.’s new proposal have come when President Ghani constantly emphasized on preservation of the constitution and opposed the formation of an interim government.

In the inauguration ceremony of the 17th tenure of the parliament, Ghani hinted that “any institution” could write an “unrealistic imagination” in a piece of paper for resolving Afghanistan’s problems. He said that no one could decide the demolition of organizations formed based on the constitution.   

Moreover, the First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said in the 7th death anniversary of Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim said that he would not allow anyone to take the right of voting from his people. Second Vice President Sarwar Danish said that any kind of political format is only ensured with fairly inclusion of all ethnics and political parties in Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, Ned Price said earlier that Washington continued encouraging all sides to constructively take part knowing that “this is a moment in time where progress is possible”.  

The U.N. also accelerated efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process. The UN also expressed its readiness for assistance with the U.S. new proposal to speed up the peace process. The organization also committed to playing its role in Afghan peace as part of the U.S. proposal.

The U.S. President Joe Biden said earlier that his administration would review the Doha agreement signed between the U.S. and Taliban on February 29, 2020. Under the deal the U.S. stipulated to withdraw all troop by May1.

Taliban leader Mullah Ghani has met the accompanying delegation and SRGS Deborah Lyons and her team, said Taliban Spokesman Mr. Naeem Wardak

Along with the current situation of Afghanistan, the Intra-Afghan negotiations, the implementation of the Doha agreement, the release of the prisoners, the termination of the Blacklist, and the proposal offered by the US were discussed, he added. Taliban told Lyons that the U.S. proposal was under their consideration.

Turkey is ready to take part in mediation efforts for peace in Afghanistan and the region, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik said a day earlier. 

“Afghanistan is a very important country for us,” Çelik told reporters in the capital Ankara after a meeting of the party’s Central Executive Board.

To a question about ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks, Çelik said: “Turkey is ready to be involved in all kinds of mediation efforts for peace in Afghanistan and the region.”

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