President Ghani will attend the US-proposed peace conference in Istanbul – that is expected early in April – if the Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada attends the event, the Afghan republic’s chief negotiator Masoom Stanekzai said.
The peace conference led by the United Nations will happen on the request of the United States to foster the efforts for achieving a political settlement in Afghanistan.
The conference was proposed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his letter to President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman Abdullah Abdullah this month.
In his letter, Blinken put forth suggestions to the Afghan government to accelerate the peace process, proposals to facilitate discussion between the two sides to form a negotiated settlement and ceasefire, a meeting in Turkey between both sides to finalize a peace agreement, and a revised proposal for a 90-day reduction in violence.
“It depends on who will come from the opponent side, whether Mullah Hibatullah will attend or not,” Stanekzai said.
Referring on the US-proposed peace plan for Afghanistan, Stanekzai said it is not possible to fully apply a foreign plan.
He described the Moscow conference as productive and said he hopes the upcoming event in Turkey will expedite the stalled peace process.
“There we have to work on the basics. What are the basics and how should we proceed?” Stanekzai said. “It is too early to say something about the formulas as we have supporters of interim government, too, but the bottom line is that we need to be persistent.”
Stanekzai said that there should be a government in Afghanistan in which the people would have the right to vote and freedom of speech.
Another participant of the Moscow meeting, Senate Deputy Speaker Alam Izedyar, said the Taliban rejected the call for a ceasefire in the conference and that the group foresees peace within the structure of their own interests.
“My view is that the Taliban expressed one topic using different tones,” Izedyar said.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has confirmed that the Istanbul summit will be held in April.
“We encouraged delegations representing the Islamic Republic and the Taliban, which included many prominent leaders, to prepare for and attend a leaders’ meeting in Istanbul in early April, the next critical milestone in the peace process,” Khalilzad said in a tweet on Friday.