New Delhi (NVI): In yet another setback to America’s efforts to get a peace plan for Afghanistan anytime soon, the Taliban has said that it is not yet ready to attend a peace conference backed by the US, tentatively planned for later this week in Turkey.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem, in a press conference yesterday, said that the militant group is not ready to attend the Turkey conference on the expected date, April 16, and is still discussing the peace proposal extended by the US, reports TOLO News.
Pertinent to mention here that last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had given both the Taliban and the Afghan government an eight-page proposal plan. Both the sides were to discuss, revise and review the plan and come to Turkey to get a mutual plan together.
Taliban spokesman Naeem said that the group is discussing both Blinken’s peace proposal and whether they should attend the conference at Istanbul, adding that they will come up with a final decision only when the discussion is completed.
The crucial meeting in Turkey is being held to push for an early Afghan peace process as the May 1 deadline to withdraw troops also looms before the US. United Nations and Qatar will also be part of the US-backed conference to finalise the peace plan.
“The Taliban has said that things will not move forward unless the issue of withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan is made clear, therefore, I think that the Turkey conference will not be held unless these issues are made clear,” Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander was quoted as saying by TOLO News.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, has been travelling between Doha and Kabul to gather support for a ceasefire and peace settlement. The US envoy left Kabul yesterday after a four-day visit as he held meeting with Afghan political leaders, civil society and youth on preparations for the Turkey conference.
Khalilzad had also negotiated the US troop withdrawal under former US President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has said that the immediate withdrawal of troops before May 1 deadline seems difficult and there may be three to six month extension.