Taliban to Attend U.S.-Backed Afghan Peace Talks in Turkey
An Afghan soldier walks past a man sitting on the side of the road in the Bibi Mahru Hill area of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photographer: Jim Huylebroek/Bloomberg)

Taliban to Attend U.S.-Backed Afghan Peace Talks in Turkey

High-level representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban will attend a U.S.-backed peace conference in Istanbul this month aimed at ending two decades of war.

The event, hosted by Turkey and supported by Qatar and the United Nations, will begin April 24 and run through May 4, according to a joint statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. Participation in the conference and its agenda have been the subject of extensive consultations with the Afghan parties, it said.

The Afghan government and the Taliban aim to reach a political agreement at the conference to pave the way for a road map to help end the conflict. The UN-led conference is being facilitated by the U.S., which is looking to withdraw its remaining 2,500 troops from the country following any political settlement among Afghans.

The Afghan administration has prepared a draft peace agreement in coordination with a U.S. offer that proposes a new interim government in a bid to open the door for the Taliban and other political stakeholders to discuss the country’s future. An immediate cease-fire is also part of the proposal.

On Monday, the Taliban said it couldn’t participate in the conference on its originally scheduled date on April 16, while saying attendance was “still under our consideration.” Taliban representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Delegates from U.S., Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan were also scheduled to attend the Istanbul event.

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