Turkey to hold Afghan peace summit on April 24

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ANKARA- Turkey will hold an Afghan peace summit from 24 April to 4 May to push through efforts to end the war in Afghanistan and sketch out a possible political settlement, the Turkish authorities said on Tuesday.

The summit includes the United Nations and Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-backed push to advance talks ahead of a May 1 deadline for withdrawal of foreign troops from Qatar.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the Taliban government and the Afghan insurgent group would attend the summit. However, the Taliban said they had not yet committed to attending on that date.

The internal discussions on this have not been completed yet.

The date ca n't be set until the discussions are completed, said Mohammad Naeem, the Taliban spokesman.

On Monday the Taliban said it was unwilling, based on timing, to attend talks in Turkey originally scheduled for 16 April.

The participation in the conference and its agenda has been the subject of extensive consultations with Turkish parties, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey.

Referring to the Taliban, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York: We understand deliberations are still going on and we hope they will participate.

President Joe Biden has decided to withdraw foreign troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks that sparked the U.S. presence at Reuters on Tuesday, three sources familiar with the decision told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear how the Taliban would respond to troops leaving next month after signing a February 2020 deal with the Trump administration that the foreign forces would leave by May 2021.

The Turkey summit is designed to end the conflict, pave the way to a peaceful and durable political settlement and facilitate and complement the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said.

Officials fear that violence in the country will surge if an agreement is not reached soon.

The US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been in the region to drum up support for a ceasefire and peace settlement that could include an interim government.

During the past week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has held a series of calls with counterparts including the United States and some Gulf Arab nations to invite them to the talks and drum up support.

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