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Khalilzad to push Taliban for participating in Turkey Conference

Turkey hosting conference on the Afghan peace between representatives of Afghanistan and Taliban from 24 April till 4 May amid intensive diplomatic efforts to find a negotiated political settlement to Afghan war

AT News

KABUL: The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad is purportedly persuading the Taliban top members to attend the upcoming Turkey Conference scheduled to be held from April 24 to May 4.

This comes as the Taliban political office spokesman, Mohammad Naeem Wardak said that the group would not participate in “any conference” until all foreign troops exit from the country.

A source privy to the issue, talking on condition of anonymity, said that Khalilzad asked the Taliban to send “top members of the group in Turkey Conference in addition to the members of the group’s political office in Qatar.”

According to the source, the U.S. envoy sought to bring the Taliban top members including Mullah Yaqoob Akhund, head of the insurgent military commission, who is son of the group’s founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar. Khalilzad is also asked for participation of Mullah Naqibullah and deputy leader of the Taliban, Sirajuddin Haqqani.

“The Republic of Turkey, the State of Qatar, and the United Nations are co-convening a high level and inclusive conference from 24 April – 4 May 2021 between representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban. Turkey is hosting the conference in Istanbul,” Turkish Foreign Ministry says in a statement.

The statement says that the co-conveners are committed to supporting a sovereign, independent and unified Afghanistan.

Based on the statement, “the overriding objective of the Istanbul Conference on the Afghanistan Peace Process is to accelerate and complement the ongoing intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha on the achievement of a just and durable political settlement.”

According to the statement, the expectation from the conference is to provide an important opportunity for all partners to reiterate support for the people of Afghanistan on their path toward inclusive peace, stability, and prosperity.

Initially, the Turkey conference was supposed to be on April 16.

The efforts for forging a peace deal between the Afghan government and Taliban has been intensifying as the U.S. is intending to announce a new deadline for troop withdrawal. According to some U.S. media, the U.S. President Joe Biden is looking forward to withdrawing forces by September 11.

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