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Afghanistan won’t attend Jeddah conference unless granted ‘strong guarantee’

AT-KABUL: The government says it will not attend the upcoming Jeddah conference in Saudi Arabia, demanding a “strong guarantee”.

The Jeddah conference follows the earlier one held in the United Arab Emirates’ city of Abu Dhabi in which Taliban delegation met with representatives from the United States, Saudi and Pakistan, discussing ways to peace and conclusion of the two-decade of war.

Umer Daudzai, head of the government-designated High Peace Council’s secretariat said Wednesday that they had experiences from the previous meeting and would not send delegation unless there is a strong guarantee.

In the Abu Dhabi conference, Taliban were asked to meet representatives from Afghanistan government, but the militants refused the demands and only held meetings with the US representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad as well as diplomats from the Persian Gulf states plus Pakistan.

The government enraged by Taliban’s refusal to hold talks, accused the group of prolonging war.

“Now we have an experience and I assure you that Afghan team will not attend the second session in Jeddah, unless we are given a precise and strong guarantee for face to face talks. We consider Saudi’s role positive to help change the situation and bring peace,” said Daudzai, who has been recently appointed by President Ghani as his special representative for regional consensus for peace.

Regional and international officials have emphasized on the intra-Afghan dialogues, promising to pave the way for this purpose. No details have been revealed on the date of the Jeddah conference which is called by the Saudi Kingdom.

Politician Gul Rahman Qazi, believes that mediators were needed to convince the two sides for direct talks.

“No peace process will succeed without well-wishers. So, it would be better to create a third party for mediating acceptable for the both sides,” said Qazi.

Taliban team who were focusing on the foreign troops’ drawdown, have recently started regional tours to talk to officials from neighboring countries on what they say “post-invasion” Afghanistan as Trump administration is reported to have made decision to pull half of the US’ 14,000 soldiers in near future.

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