President Ashraf Ghani will attend the peace conference in Istanbul, Turkey, likely to be held early next month if Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada attends the event, Afghanistan chief negotiator Masoom Stanekzai said. 

The peace conference, led by the United Nations, will be held on the request of the United States to foster the efforts for achieving a political settlement in Afghanistan.

Afghan media reported Stanekzai as saying Presindent Ghani’s participation “depends on who will come from the opponent side, whether Mullah Hibatullah or not.”

He said it is not possible to fully apply a foreign plan when asked about the US-backed plan for Afghanistan.

He viewed the Moscow conference as productive and expressed the hope the Turkey summit will expedite the stalled peace process. 

Stanekzai said “it is too early to say something about the formulas as we have supporters of interim set up, too, but the bottom line is that we need to be persistent.” 

There should be a system in Afghanistan in which the people would have the right to vote and freedom of speech, he added.

Another participant of the Moscow meeting, Senate Deputy Speaker Alam Izedyar, said the Taliban rejected the call for a ceasefire in the conference and that the group wants peace according to their own interests. 

Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has confirmed that the Istanbul summit will be held in April.   

“We encouraged delegations representing the Islamic Republic and the Taliban, which included many prominent leaders, to prepare for and attend a leaders’ meeting in Istanbul in early April, the next critical milestone in the peace process,” Khalilzad said in a tweet.

The conference was proposed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his letter to President Ghani and Chairman Abdullah Abdullah earlier this month.


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