Turkish PM visits Kabul and calls on Taliban to join peace talks


KABUL: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim arrived in Kabul for an official visit on Sunday, during which he urged Taliban guerrillas to take part in peace talks offered by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

During talks with Ghani and Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Yildirim also discussed the transfer of control to Turkey of Afghan-Turk schools, and the fate of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the Afghan vice president who has been living in exile in Turkey for almost a year.

Speaking after his talks with Abdullah, Yildirim said Ankara welcomes Ghani’s peace overture to the Taliban, and urged the group “not to miss this historical opportunity.”

He promised that Turkey would spare no effort in helping to bring peace to Afghanistan.
Commenting on Dostum’s possible return, Abdullah said Kabul was keen for all Afghans to live in unity and have the same opportunities in the government.

Ahead of the meeting, the Afghan media had speculated that Yildirim would also discuss the opening of an office for Taliban militants in Turkey during the talks.

Javed Faisal, a spokesman for Abdullah, declined to comment on the specific topics of discussion before the talks but said: “The focus of the discussions will be on security, economic ties and on cultural and educational matters.”

Turkey has historically close cultural and political ties with Afghanistan, and in the 17 years since the Taliban’s ouster it has forged closer economic relations, too.

While some Turkish troops served in the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan as part of the so-called war on terror, Ankara has also in recent years hosted several rounds of indirect talks between purported emissaries of the Taliban and representatives of Kabul, and for a while hosted a disaffected former leader of the group.

Ghani’s government, which relies on US and western military and economic aid, is desperate for the Taliban to take part in peace talks as part of an effort to end the country’s protracted conflict. Turkey is regarded by many as a suitable location for possible future meetings between the Taliban and Afghan government.

Kabul is also expected to hand over two Turkish citizens — Sami Yavuz, the owner of a restaurant in Kabul, and Yılmaz Aytan, an Afghan-Turk schoolteacher — who have been under house arrest since the Afghan security forces raided an Afghan-Turk School in Kabul five months ago, according to two official sources who asked to remain anonymous.

Source: Arab News


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