MONITORING (SW) – Turkey announced Tuesday that it is postponing a much-anticipated Afghan peace conference in Istanbul until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“We thought that it would be beneficial to postpone it …We consulted Qatar, the US and the UN and decided to hold it after Ramadan and Eid festivities,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the Haberturk news channel, adding there is “no need to hurry” after the recent decision by the US to withdraw its troops.

The Turkish government has scheduled the international conference from April 24 – May 4. With the Afghan government willing to dispatch a high-ranking delegation to the session, the Taliban have so far not expressed willingness to join, demanding the exit of foreign troops in line with the Doha agreement by May 2021

“The conference would be meaningless without the Taliban joining. At the moment, we decided to postpone it since there is no clarity about the formation of the delegations and participation…The aim is not to initiate alternative talks to Doha but to contribute to the process. Hosting the meeting together in Istanbul will be Turkey, Qatar and the UN,” he said.

Cavusoglu underlined that Turkey made efforts to conduct the meeting before May 1 as US forces were initially supposed to be completely withdrawn from Afghanistan by that day.

Turkey, Qatar and the United Nations had planned to co-convene a high-level conference in Istanbul, from 24 April to 4 May 2021, with the participation of the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban to add momentum to the negotiations that started in Doha last September to achieve a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan. It said on Wednesday that in view of recent developments, and after extensive consultations with the parties, it has been agreed to postpone the conference to a later date when conditions for making meaningful progress would be more favorable.

Turkey, Qatar and the United Nations will resolutely continue their earnest efforts to achieve peace in Afghanistan, it added.

Last week, US President Joe Biden announced that the withdrawal of all its forces would begin on May 1 in line with an agreement President Donald Trump’s administration made with the Taliban, but some US troops will remain to protect American diplomats.

In line with Biden’s announcement, all American troops will depart from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks in the US.

The intra-Afghan talks began after a February 2020 agreement between the Taliban and the US that sets a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees.

ENDS

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