SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 6 May 2021, Thursday | النسخة العربية

President Ghani invites Taliban for peace talks with Istanbul meeting postponed

Afghanistan’s President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has once again invited the Taliban to take part in the much-awaited peace negotiations aimed at achieving peace in the war-ravaged country.

“Come and sit with us (for peace negotiations) in Kandahar, Herat, Helmand, Kabul, Khost, wherever you want,” Ghani said during a visit to the southern province of Kandahar on Thursday.

The Afghan government is willing to incorporate the Taliban’s demands for amendments in the constitution, he said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on April 20 that an international peace conference on Afghanistan scheduled for April 24 in Istanbul had been postponed until mid-May.

“Come and sit with us (for peace negotiations) in Kandahar, Herat, Helmand, Kabul, Khost, wherever you want,” Ghani said during a visit to the southern province of Kandahar on Thursday.

The Afghan government is willing to incorporate the Taliban’s demands for amendments in the constitution, he said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on April 20 that an international peace conference on Afghanistan scheduled for April 24 in Istanbul had been postponed until mid-May.

“We believed it would be useful to postpone” after consultations with Qatar, the United Nations and the United States, Cavusoglu said. “There’s no need to rush.”

Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, the Afghan state minister for peace affairs, told the parliament a day earlier that the Istanbul conference had been postponed due to the Taliban’s disinclination to hold the talks.

He assured the legislature that the government was still ready to negotiate and take part in the Istanbul conference at any time.

Earlier this month, the Taliban said they would not participate in any peace talks until all foreign forces leave the country..

The administration of US President Joe Biden has announced the withdrawal of all American forces before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

The United States, under former President Donald Trump, reached a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 on the withdrawal of all US troops in exchange for the Taliban’s halting of attacks on American forces.

Under the so-called Doha Accord, Washington promised to bring the number of US forces in Afghanistan to zero by May 2021.

The US, along with its NATO allies, invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. The invasion — which has led to the longest war in US history — removed the Taliban from power, but the militant group never stopped its attacks.

Washington has spent trillions of dollars waging the war on Afghanistan, which has left thousands of Afghan civilians and American soldiers dead.

Roughly 7,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan rely on the US for logistics and security support and will also have to pull out if the American forces withdraw.

Turkey, Qatar and the UN had planned to co-host the high-level Istanbul conference with the participation of representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban to add momentum to the negotiations that started in Doha last September with the purpose of achieving a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Following the postponement of the Istanbul conference, Head of the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said on Thursday that the warring Afghan factions must demonstrate progress in the current Doha peace negotiations.

Lyons, who is also the UN secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan, added that she has held several days of consultations in Doha with Afghan parties and international partners to find the best way to strengthen and add impetus to intra-Afghan peace negotiations.

She emphasized that there would be no pause in work to support the Afghan peace negotiations as engagements with both the Afghan government and Taliban representatives continue for a just and durable peace settlement.

“The UN’s impartiality and ability to convene is at the disposal of Afghans and international actors working for peace, especially regional states,” said UNAMA chief.

In a recently released report, the United Nations said the number of civilians killed and injured in Afghanistan during the first three months of 2021 had been “significantly” higher than a year ago.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan recorded in its report close to 1,800 civilian casualties, including 573 deaths, a 29% increase compared to the same period in 2020.