The UN-led conference on Afghanistan will begin on April 24, the co-conveners of the conference said on Tuesday.

“The Republic of Turkey, the State of Qatar, and the United Nations are co-convening a high level and inclusive conference from 24 April – 4 May 2021 between representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban. Turkey is hosting the conference in Istanbul,” a statement by Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

The statement says that the co-conveners are committed to supporting a sovereign, independent and unified Afghanistan.

“The overriding objective of the Istanbul Conference on the Afghanistan Peace Process is to accelerate and complement the ongoing intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha on the achievement of a just and durable political settlement,” it added.

According to the statement, the expectation from the conference is to provide an important opportunity for all partners to reiterate support for the people of Afghanistan on their path toward inclusive peace, stability, and prosperity.

The Turkey conference was scheduled to begin on April 16, but the Taliban on Monday said that the group is not ready to attend the conference given their consultations on the details of the event.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman M Naeem said the Taliban is reviewing the details of the Turkey conference agenda shared with them by the United States.

Naeem said that the leadership of the group has not made a final decision on the agenda and the formation of its delegation for the Istanbul conference. He said they will soon announce their stance on the issue.

On the other hand, the Afghan government said it will also participate in the conference in Turkey by sending an inclusive negotiating team, but former vice president Younus Qanooni on Tuesday said he has information that the government has prepared a list of delegates to attend the upcoming Turkey conference.

He said such a delegation is not inclusive, most of its members are from the government, and that it does not have the authority to make decisions.

Qanooni, who addressed a gathering of former mujahideen figures and political leaders, warned that such an attempt will lead the Turkey conference to failure.

He said that the attempt will also disrupt the upcoming Turkey conference.

“God forbid, this delegation is only from the government and does not represent politicians, influential figures, the nation, women, civil society and if it goes there and makes an attempt to disrupt the conference violence will continue in Afghanistan for sure,” he said.

This comes as Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danesh reacted to the review of the peace proposals, including that of President Ghani, made by a 15-member committee under the High Council for National Reconciliation.

He said it has not highlighted policies for a transitional government.

Danesh has announced his opposition to any attempt to release more Taliban prisoners, but President Ghani’s special envoy for Pakistan, Umer Daudzai, said that the issue needs to be considered to move the process forward.

Nevertheless, lawmakers in the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan Parliament, said that the delegation that is expected to attend the Turkey conference should be inclusive and that it should defend Afghans’ interests and the gains of the last two decades.


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