Taliban Attach Conditions to Istanbul Conference Participation
The Afghan Taliban have decided upon three conditions to attend an eagerly awaited U.S.-proposed conference in Turkey: The conference must be short, the agenda should not include decision-making on critical issues, and the Taliban delegation should be low level, a senior Taliban leader told VOA Tuesday.
“Our leadership has proposed that the Istanbul meeting should not be longer than three days,” said the leader who did not want to be identified as he is not allowed to speak on the record.
Another senior Taliban leader confirmed the news when approached by VOA.
The conference, to be hosted jointly by the United Nations, Turkey, and Qatar, was first proposed by the United States in April, days after President Joe Biden announced that foreign forces would leave Afghanistan by September of this year. No date has been announced.
It was one of several proposed conferences involving the Taliban, the Afghan government, and regional countries designed to give momentum to the peace talks between the Taliban and an official Afghan government team in Doha.
A Taliban delegation attended one such conference in Moscow but refused to attend the conference in Turkey, saying they were deliberating on this and other key issues.
The head of the Qatar-based Taliban negotiation team, Sheikh Abdul Hakeem, and several key members of the Taliban’s Qatar office, traveled to the region to consult with the group's chief, Sheikh Hibatullah Akhundzada, and some members of the Taliban leadership council.
Hakeem was accompanied by Mullah Fazil, Mullah Shireen and Mullah Abdul Manan, all negotiation team members. They also are all members of the Rehbari Shura (leadership council). Those consultations, according to the Taliban leader, went on for a month and concluded last week.
Afghan media reported the deliberations were being conducted in Pakistan, where according to the Afghan government, most of the Taliban leadership are living. (VOA)