Preparations are underway for the Afghan peace talks conference in Turkey, the U.S. State Department said Thursday.
President Joe Biden is deciding whether to meet a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of the last 3,500 American troops in Afghanistan that was set in a February 2020 accord struck with the Taliban under former President Donald Trump.
Biden’s administration has sought to build international pressure on the Taliban and U.S.-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government to reach a peace agreement and a cease-fire before the deadline.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent a letter to Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani which stated that Turkey would be asked to host a senior-level intra-Afghan peace meeting in the near future to finalize a peace agreement. Following the news, Turkey expressed its readiness to take part in mediation efforts to establish peace in Afghanistan and the region.
Ankara recently stated that Turkey will continue to support Afghan security. Turkey has been contributing to the security of Afghanistan and will keep its presence in the country as long as its Afghan brothers demand it, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said last month, marking the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The Istanbul peace talks are being planned amid a worrying escalation in violence in Afghanistan as journalists, civil society members and health workers have increasingly been the focus of targeted killings that the U.N. has said may amount to war crimes.
Figures from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan suggest 3,035 civilians were killed and 5,785 injured in attacks in 2020, with a significant rise in assassinations since direct talks between Kabul and the Taliban began in September.
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