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Istanbul Peace Talks On Afghanistan Postponed Until After Ramadan

The scene of an explosion that targeted the vehicle of a local police commander in Kandahar on April 19. Taliban assaults on foreign troops have largely ceased since a February 2020 peace deal, but attacks have continued against Afghan security forces and government personnel.

Turkey says an international peace conference on Afghanistan previously scheduled for later this week has been postponed until after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Istanbul talks were postponed until Ramadan celebrations end in mid-May over issues regarding the preparations, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told HaberTurk television on April 20.

Reuters quoted three sources as saying that the gathering was postponed over the nonparticipation by the Taliban.

Afghan officials and Taliban representatives have not commented on the matter.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price did not confirm the postponement but said broader diplomatic efforts will continue.

"We've always been clear: Istanbul was not a replacement for Doha," he said, referring to the venue for stalled peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The Washington-backed conference, hosted by Turkey, Qatar, and the United Nations, was previously scheduled for April 24 to fast track an agreement between the Taliban and Afghan government with the aim of ending decades of war in the country.

But U.S. President Joe Biden last week announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, four months later than the May 1 deadline agreed to with the Taliban by the previous U.S. administration.

In response, the militant group announced it would not attend the high-level peace conference planned for this week.

Taliban assaults on foreign troops in Afghanistan have largely ceased since a peace deal was signed in the Qatari capital, Doha, in February 2020 by the Taliban and the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump.

But attacks have continued against Afghan security forces and government personnel.

Under the Doha accord, all foreign forces were to leave Afghanistan by May 1 in exchange for security guarantees from the militant group, such as severing ties with Al-Qaeda and refusing to harbor any foreign terrorists.

The Taliban also pledged to negotiate a cease-fire and a power-sharing deal with Kabul.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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