Taliban Dismisses Afghan Peace Conference
An upcoming international peace conference that was meant to move Afghanistan’s warring sides to a power-sharing deal and ensure an orderly U.S. exit from the country has been postponed on Wednesday.
The decision came several days after Taliban insurgents, who are key to peace efforts, dismissed the U.S.-promoted conference in Istanbul as a political spectacle serving American interests.
No new date was given for the conference, which was to have started Saturday under the sponsorship of the United Nations, Turkey and Qatar. Turkey’s foreign minister said the conference was delayed until after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan which ends in mid-May.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed the conference was postponed because of “lack of clarity”, without elaborating. Other participants denied comments.
The delay underscored the difficulties the Biden administration and NATO are facing in orchestrating an orderly exit from conflict-scarred Afghanistan. Both have said they would begin withdrawing their remaining troops — a total of close to 13,000 — from the country on May 1 and complete the pullout by Sept. 11, no matter what.
Taliban increases attacks against Afghan government
Just hours before the announcement of the postponement, a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of Afghan security personnel, wounding seven people in the capital of Kabul. The interior ministry said civilians and security personnel were among the wounded.
The attack was the first in weeks in the capital, even as targeted killings have escalated and Afghanistan’s security personnel have come under relentless attacks by Taliban insurgents. Recent months have also seen an increase in government bombing raids on suspected Taliban positions and increased raids by Afghan special forces.
Residents fear the attack could be a harbinger of what’s to come as foreign troops prepare to begin their final withdrawal from Afghanistan. No one took immediate responsibility for the attack.