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Turkey Says It Plans To Host Afghanistan Peace Talks Next Month

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, meet for talks in Istanbul on November 20, 2020.

Turkey says it plans to host an Afghan peace conference in Istanbul next month ahead of a deadline for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on March 12 that Ankara considers itself "one of the most-important actors in Afghanistan."

"We will do this (meeting) in coordination with our brothers in Qatar," the Anadolu state news agency quoted Cavusoglu as saying in reference to a separate round of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban staged in Doha. He gave no specific date for the meeting.

He added that Turkey intended to appoint a special envoy to the peace process.

"Both the Taliban and the negotiation delegation, meaning the government side, has asked us to host such a meeting before," Cavusoglu said.

The diplomatic push comes as U.S. President Joe Biden is completing a review of an agreement with the Taliban negotiated by former president Donald Trump's administration to remove the final U.S. troops in the war-torn country by May.

On March 9, Russia also announced plans to hold a conference in Moscow next week to discuss Afghanistan, although it was unclear if the United States would attend.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP