The international conference, deemed essential for the future of the war-torn country amid escalating violence, is now scheduled to take place after Ramadan.
Turkey says it is postponing a much-anticipated Afghan peace conference in Istanbul until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“We thought it would be advantageous to postpone it … We consulted with Qatar, the United States and the United Nations and decided to hold it after the Ramadan and Eid festivities,” said on Tuesday. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Haberturk news channel.
Cavusoglu added that there was “no need to hurry” after the recent US decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.
The Eid al-Fitr holiday follows Ramadan, which this year ends in mid-May.
The international conference, deemed essential for the future of the war-torn country amid escalating violence, was to be held from April 24 to May 4.
The Taliban had previously refused to attend any Afghan peace summit until all foreign forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan.
“The conference would be meaningless without the support of the Taliban. For now, we have decided to postpone it as there is no clarity on the formation of delegations and participation, ”Cavusoglu said.
“The objective is not to start alternative talks in Doha but to contribute to the process. Turkey, Qatar and the UN will host the meeting in Istanbul. “
A senior Afghan government official told Reuters news agency that the Istanbul meeting “was not on the given date because the Taliban refused to attend.”
The postponement was confirmed by two other sources, including an official whose country is involved in the planning process, Reuters said.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem told Reuters in a text message that the group had no information about the postponement and could not say anything about future conference dates after Ramadan.
An Afghan government spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. There was no immediate revised date.
Last year, the United States and the Taliban agreed that all foreign forces would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by May 1 – a date that was pushed back last week by US President Joe Biden.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price did not confirm the postponement, but said broader diplomatic efforts would continue. “We have always been clear, Istanbul is not replacing Doha,” he said.
Taliban and Afghan government negotiators began peace talks last year in the Qatari capital, Doha, but progress has been slow and violence continued to escalate in Afghanistan.
Washington was trying to speed up the process, which included promoting the summit in Turkey in which more than 20 countries and world bodies would participate.
UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said earlier Tuesday that he could not confirm whether the conference was postponed.
“The United Nations, along with the co-organizers, Qatar and Turkey, continue to engage with representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban on ways to strengthen and boost intra-Afghan negotiations.” , said Dujarric. journalists.
UN Special Envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons was in Doha last week to discuss with the Afghan parties “how best the international community can help them move their negotiations towards a just political settlement” and sustainable, ”said Dujarric.
“We will continue to focus on advancing the intra-Afghan negotiations, which is a critical part of the way forward.”
A leading American general expressed “serious doubts” Tuesday on the Taliban’s reliability as a negotiating partner for US and Afghan diplomats following the US military’s withdrawal from the US’s longest war.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when they were expelled by US-led forces. Since then, they have led a long-standing armed uprising and still control large swathes of territory.