World Taliban not ready to meet Afghan govt in Turkey as US wants
Biden’s Afghanistan plan puts al Qaeda in heart of Washington
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has sent a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani outlining ways forward for the Afghan peace process. Meanwhile, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan, has provided the Afghan government and the Taliban with a draft peace plan. Taken together, these actions affirm a naivete in the face of Islamist terror. A naivete that exceeds even President Barack Obama and John Kerry’s former empowerment of Iran. © Provided by Washington Examiner Consider the details. Blinken suggests holding an international conference that will immediately delegitimize the elected Afghan government.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Taliban spokesman said Monday the religious militia won’t attend a peace conference tentatively planned for later this week in Turkey, putting U.S. efforts to get a peace plan anytime soon in jeopardy.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously said he wanted to see a peace agreement between Afghanistan’s warring sides finalized at a conference hosted by Turkey and attended by top officials from both the Taliban and the Afghan government.
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In one of the most significant attacks against US forces in Afghanistan recently, CNN has learned that the Taliban twice targeted one of the most heavily guarded bases in the country late last month and that US military personnel working for the CIA were at the installation when it came under fire. © Sonny Leggett/Joint Chiefs of Staff/Department of Defense Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walks through an honor cordon with Gen.
Afghan government, U.S. and Turkish officials had said they intended to begin the conference Friday. It was to last 10 days.
No new date for the Turkey conference was set but time is running out on a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan in keeping with a deal the Trump administration made with the Taliban more than a year ago.
President Joe Biden has said he is committed to ending America's longest war but the U.S. is reportedly looking for a three- to six-month extension.
Until now the Taliban have refused, warning of “consequences” if Washington reneges on the deal and the withdrawal timeline.
Last month, Blinken gave both the Taliban and the Afghan government an eight-page proposed peace plan, which they were to discuss, revise and review and come to Turkey ready to cobble together an agreement.
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President Joe Biden's decision to pull US troops out of Afghanistan by September marks a pivotal moment after almost 20 years of war in the country and thousands of lives lost -- it also signals a coming shift in US focus and resources overseas. © THOMAS WATKINS/AFP/Getty Images In this photo taken on June 6, 2019, US soldiers look out over hillsides during a visit of the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller at the Afghan National Army (ANA) checkpoint in Nerkh district of Wardak province.
In an audio message to The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said the Islamic Emirate — the name the Taliban gave their government — was not ready to attend this week’s planned meeting in Turkey. He said the insurgent group was still discussing the U.S.-proffered peace agreement. He later shared his audio recording on a What's App group.
Naeem said attendance at the conference and the Blinken peace proposal were being discussed “and whenever the discussion is completed we will share our final decision.”
Blinken's peace plan called for protection of the rights of women and minorities and allowed for constitutional reform. It also called for the establishment of an interim administration, to be known as a "Peace Government." There would also be an Islamic Advisory Council which would advise on all laws to ensure they are kept within Islamic tenets, an apparent concession to the Taliban.
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President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan could doom peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government. " Those "diplomatic efforts" are stalled at best, dead at worst.MORE: Biden to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 The Taliban's spokesperson tweeted Tuesday that the group will not participate in any negotiations "until all foreign forces completely withdraw from our homeland." © Mohammad Ismail/Reuters, FILE Afghan officials inspect a damaged minibus after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 15, 2021.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who has grown increasingly isolated in Kabul as his political opponents accuse him of clinging to power, offered an alternative to Blinken's proposal. Ghani supported an interim government that he would head until elections could be held within months.
The Taliban have made it clear they would not accept a government headed by Ghani, but they have yet to offer an alternative to Binken's proposal.
Blinken announced the Turkey meeting in a sharply worded letter to Ghani and other Afghan leaders. In that letter Blinken warned that a U.S. withdrawal without a political settlement would leave Ghani's government vulnerable to Taliban gains.
“I am concerned that the security situation will worsen and the Taliban will make rapid territorial gains,” Blinken said in the letter.
Washington's peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, the man who negotiated the U.S. troop withdrawal under President Trump, has been shuttling between Doha, where the Taliban maintain a political office, and Kabul.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Monday said Khalilzad had spent four days in the Afghan capital meeting with government officials and civil society leaders, underscoring “why it is important that both sides accelerate the peace process.”
“In all his meetings Ambassador Khalilzad was encouraged by the shared vision for an Istanbul conference that advances prospects for a just and durable peace to in Afghanistan,” said the statement, even as the Taliban made it clear they were not ready to attend.
Ex-Afghani Adviser Expects Taliban Will Forgo Peace Talks With Ashraf Ghani .
In the days leading up to a United Nations-led summit on Afghanistan's peace process, a former adviser to the Afghan government said he does not expect the cooperation of the Taliban.Responding to President Joe Biden's Wednesday announcement of a May 1-September 11 plan to withdrawal 2,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter that "problems will certainly increase" if the U.S. fails to meet a May 1 deadline established under President Donald Trump.