Turkey Ready to Host Taliban Talks

Turkey Ready to Host Taliban Talks

The Turks and Afghans are talking about setting up an official venue in Turkey for negotiating a political settlement in Afghanistan.


Afghanistan’s chief security official told reporters that he’d support the idea of the Taliban setting up an office in Turkey, so that negotiators would have an “address” to go to for talks. And, in a separate interview, President Karzai told an interviewer that he, too, wishes that the Taliban had an “address” so talks could more easily be conducted.

This isn’t the first time that the idea of a Taliban office in Turkey has been suggested, and the Turks—who’ve similarly engaged in nuclear diplomacy with Iran, in trying to bridge the Israel-Syria divide and in seeking a Fatah-Hamas accord among the Palestinians—might be especially well suited to facilitate an Afghan accord.

According to RFE/RL:

“The Afghan government would welcome any assistance by Turkey to open a representative office for the Taliban on Turkish soil, the Afghan national security adviser told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan.

“In an interview on March 1 in London, Rangin Dadfar Spanta told RFE/RL the representative office could facilitate talks with the militant group. ‘In order to hold talks with the group,’ he said, ‘It is better if they have an address.’ ”

Importantly, RFE/RL cited a representative of Karzai’s peace council saying that Turkey was ready for that role:

“A spokesperson for the 70-member high peace council that is trying to broker peace with the Taliban said in Kabul that ‘Turkey had expressed readiness to be the center of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.’

“These developments follow a trip to Turkey last week by another Afghan delegation, headed by former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

“A joint press release by Rabbani, the head of the council, and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey supported the efforts of the high peace council to bring peace to Afghanistan.

“According to the statement, Turkey said it would assist the peace process provided the Taliban lay down its weapons.”

In his interview, with Britain’s Channel 4 news, Karzai said that talks with the Taliban are already underway, but that they are made more difficult because the Taliban has to operate in secret and can’t meet publicly. Said Karzai: “The contacts are going on. The contacts don’t get to a fixed address unfortunately, because that address is not there.”

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