Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan urge Taleban to commit to Afghan peace talks

Kabul - They also 'deplored the continuing high level of violence in Afghanistan'

By Reuters

Published: Fri 23 Apr 2021, 8:00 PM

The foreign ministers of Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan called on the Afghan Taleban on Friday to reaffirm its commitment to achieving a negotiated settlement for lasting peace in Afghanistan.

In a joint statement issued after talks in Istanbul, the three ministers underlined "the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire" to end the violence and "provide a conducive atmosphere" for peace talks.

A US-backed Afghan peace conference to be hosted in Istanbul hosted by Turkey, Qatar and the United Nations on Saturday was postponed over the Taleban's non-participation.

Ankara has said the talks will be held after the holy month of Ramadan but no new date has been set.

The foreign ministers of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan on Friday discussed the planned conference, aimed at fast-tracking an agreement between the Afghan government and the Taleban following Washington's announcement that foreign troops will leave Afghanistan by September 11.

The ministers "called on all parties, in particular the Taleban to reaffirm their commitment for achieving an inclusive negotiated settlement leading to lasting peace in Afghanistan desired by the Afghan people, the region and the international community", according to the joint statement.

They also "deplored the continuing high level of violence in Afghanistan."

Speaking at a joint news conference after the talks, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara's support for the Afghan peace process and efforts to organise the conference in Istanbul would continue.

"As the co-organisers, we are continuing talks on this with all sides," he said, alongside Pakistani Foreign Minister Shan Mahmood Qureshi.

Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar joined the meeting via video link for health reasons, Cavusoglu said.

The Taleban had earlier refused to attend any summits until all foreign forces were pulled out of Afghanistan. The Taleban and the United States last year agreed that all foreign forces would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by May 1, a date that was pushed back last week by US President Joe Biden.

The Taleban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when they were ousted by US-led forces. Since then, they have waged a long-running insurgency and still control wide swathes of territory.

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