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Afghan peace conference postponed after Taliban opposition

Afghan peace conference postponed after Taliban opposition
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An international peace conference scheduled for later this week to help produce a power-sharing agreement in Afghanistan was postponed Wednesday after the Taliban voiced opposition to the talks.

The conference had been slated to start in Istanbul on Saturday and last until May 4, but Turkey, Qatar and the United Nations, which had planned to co-sponsor the discussions between the Afghan government and the Taliban, said the conditions were not right to make progress in negotiations. 

The talks were meant to "add momentum to the negotiations that started in Doha last September to achieve a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan,” the three parties said in a joint statement.

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“In view of recent developments, and after extensive consultations with the parties, it has been agreed to postpone the conference to a later date when conditions for making meaningful progress would be more favorable,” they added. “Turkey, Qatar and the United Nations will resolutely continue their earnest efforts to achieve peace in Afghanistan.”

The announcement marks the latest setback in cobbling together an agreement between Kabul and the Taliban.

Talks last year in Doha failed to formalize an accord, and violence against the government and Afghan security forces have continued, most recently with a suicide bombing targeting the military Tuesday.

The Taliban over the weekend said they would not attend the U.S.-backed Istanbul peace conference, likening it to political theater instead of talks intended on crafting a formal deal. No date has been given for when the next talks may be held. 

The delay underscores the difficulties the U.S. is facing in putting in place a stable governing structure in Afghanistan as it prepares to withdraw troops from the country. 

President BidenJoe BidenBiden prepares to confront Putin Ukrainian president thanks G-7 nations for statement of support Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting MORE last week laid out his plan for a full U.S. withdrawal, which would see forces leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that sparked America's longest war.