Turkey is hosting a crucial meeting this month to be attended by the United Nations and Qatar as part of a United States-backed push to see a peace agreement between Afghanistan’s warring sides finalised.
The Taliban has said it will not attend the meeting on the Afghan peace process in Turkey if it took place this week.
Diplomats and officials briefed on the matter said it was planned to take place over 10 days from April 16, though the date had not been finalised or officially announced.
The Taliban spokesman, Mr Mohammed Naeem, has said they can’t take part in Turkey’s conference on April 16, 2021, as discussions on attending the Conference are under way.
While no date for the Turkey conference has been set, time is running out on a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan in keeping with a deal the administration of former US President Donald Trump made with the Taliban more than a year ago.
Officials fear that if an agreement is not reached soon, violence in the country will surge.
US President Joe Biden has said it would be hard to withdraw troops by May, but that it was unlikely they would still be there next year.
Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave both the Taliban and the Afghan Government an eight-page proposed peace plan, which they were to discuss and revise before coming to Turkey to cobble together an agreement.
Blinken’s peace plan called for the protection of the rights of women and minorities and allowed for constitutional reform; it also called for the establishment of an interim administration, as well as the setting up of an Islamic Advisory Council which would advise on all laws to ensure they are kept within Islamic tenets, an apparent concession to the Taliban.