Turkey plans to host an Afghan peace conference in Istanbul in April, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday, ahead of a deadline for a US troop withdrawal.
In a letter leaked to Afghan media, Secretary of State Antony Blinken encouraged Afghan leaders to consider a “new, inclusive government” and proposed that talks take place within weeks in Turkey to seal a peace deal with the Taliban.
Cavusoglu said Turkey considers itself “one of the most important actors in Afghanistan.”
“We will do this (meeting) in coordination with brotherly Qatar,” the Anadolu state news agency quoted Cavusoglu as saying in reference to a separate round of talks staged in Doha.
He added that Turkey intended to appoint a special envoy to the peace process.
“Both the Taliban and the negotiation delegation, meaning the government side, had asked us to host such a meeting before,” Cavusoglu said.
The diplomatic push comes with US President Joe Biden completing a review on whether to abide by an agreement with the Islamist insurgents negotiated by former president Donald Trump to pull the final US troops out by May.
Turkey plans to host Afghan peace talks in April.
Turkey's FM Cavusoglu: "This is not a meeting that is an alternative to the Qatar process, it is a complement to that. We will carry this out in coordination with brotherly Qatar, but it will be in Turkey"https://t.co/WknnTu7Mue
— Madiha Afzal (@MadihaAfzal) March 12, 2021
In his letter, Blinken said Washington feared the “security situation will worsen and the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains” if the United States ends its two-decade military involvement in Afghanistan.
The Taliban resumed negotiations on this plan with Zalmay Khalilzad last week when the top US peace broker landed in the Qatari capital Doha.
“Both sides [the US and Taliban] expressed their commitment to the Doha agreement and discussed its full implementation. Likewise, the current situation of Afghanistan and the rapidity and effectiveness of the Intra-Afghan negotiations were discussed,” spokesman for the Taliban Mohammad Naeed said.
Russia also plans to hold a conference on Afghanistan in Moscow later this month, the TASS news agency said on Tuesday.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk