UN wants progress in Doha talks to end Afghan conflict
On heels of postponed Istanbul meeting for peace, President Ghani invites Taliban for talks in Afghanistan
Amid an array of reactions to the Istanbul Conference postponement, the UN stressed on Thursday that the warring Afghan factions must demonstrate progress in the current Doha peace negotiations.
Head of the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said she has concluded several days of consultations in Doha with Afghan parties and international partners on the best way forward to strengthen and add impetus to intra-Afghan peace negotiations.
Lyons, who is also the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for the war-ravaged country, said there would be no pause in work to support the Afghan peace negotiations as engagements with both the Afghan government and Taliban representatives continue for a just and durable peace settlement.
“The UN's impartiality and ability to convene is at the disposal of Afghans and international actors working for peace, especially regional states,” said UNAMA chief.
The Taliban declined to attend the peace conference in Turkey, demanding withdrawal of all foreign troops by May in line with the Doha Agreement with the US.
Ghani invites Taliban for talks in Afghanistan
Meanwhile, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, during a visit to restive southern Kandahar province on Thursday, once again invited the Taliban to peace negotiations within the country.
“Come and sit with us (for peace negotiations) in Kandahar, Herat, Helmand, Kabul, Khost wherever you want,” he said, adding that the government is willing to incorporate the Taliban's demands for amendments in the constitution.
A day earlier, Minister of State for Peace Sayed Saadat Mansour Naderi had told the parliament that the reason for the delay in the Istanbul meeting was the Taliban's unwillingness to hold the talks. He assured the house that the government was still ready to negotiate and participate in the Istanbul conference at any time.
The much-anticipated conference was called off just days before its scheduled April 24 date.
Turkey, Qatar and the UN had planned to co-host the high-level conference with the participation of representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban to add momentum to the negotiations that started in Doha last September to achieve a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan.
It said on Wednesday that in view of recent developments and after extensive consultations with the parties, it had been agreed to postpone the conference to a later date when conditions for making meaningful progress are more favorable.
Turkey, Qatar and the UN will steadfastly continue their efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan, it added.