Taliban did not attend the meeting in Turkey

UMMATIMES - The Taliban admits that they are not willing to attend a major summit on the Afghanistan peace process in Turkey if it is held this week, Monday (12/4). Turkey is hosting important meetings with the United Nations (UN) and Qatar as part of efforts to kick-start the Afghan peace process.

"We were unable to take part in the Turkish conference on April 16 ... and we have informed Turkey about this," said Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naeem.

Diplomats and officials briefed on the matter said it was planned to last for 10 days from April 16. Although the date is not final or officially announced.

However, Naeem stated, it is possible that the Taliban will attend at a later date. "Our discussions about whether to take part or not and when we can take part are ongoing," he said.

The US envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has traveled to the region to try to garner ceasefire support. He is seeking a peaceful settlement that could include an interim government as a May 1 deadline for withdrawing foreign troops is imminent.

Khalilzad completed a four-day visit to Kabul on Monday (11/4). He said he had held talks with government officials, politicians, members of civil society and the diplomatic community to discuss preparations for the Turkish conference.

"Ambassador Khalilzad underlined why it is important for both sides to speed up the peace process," the US Embassy in Kabul said in a statement.

Officials fear that if a deal is not reached soon, violence will escalate again. US President Joe Biden has said it will be difficult to withdraw troops in May, but that they are unlikely to remain there next year.