Taliban likely to sit out of Afghan peace conference in Tashkent

Salaam Times


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaking at the Presidential Palace March 21, said, 'War is not the solution, and those who continue fighting will face the nation.' Ghani and other high-ranking officials from more than 12 countries are expected to attend a conference in Uzbekistan next week on ending the conflict in Afghanistan. [Afghan Presidential Palace]

TASHKENT -- The Taliban has not yet responded to an invitation to attend a high-level conference on ending the conflict in Afghanistan set for March 26-27 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, UN Special Representative for Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, and the European Union's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, are expected to attend, according to a statement from Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry March 6.

The foreign ministers of 17 countries will also be present.

"It is expected that the forum participants will convey their consolidated stance -- at the regional and global levels -- on the need for the soonest start of direct talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement without any preconditions," the statement said.

Taliban representatives have not applied to attend the conference, the Uzbekistani Foreign Ministry said March 12, according to news reports.

On February 28, Ghani offered to recognise the Taliban as a legitimate political party as part of a proposed peace plan. The Taliban has yet to officially respond to the peace offer.

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