Lack of consensus on Afghan agenda for Istanbul Summit emerges

Afghan politicians say Afghanistan as a whole, and government, has not yet settled on a single agenda to be presented at the Istanbul Summit scheduled for early April.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is working on a plan to reduce violence and end the war – a plan that will be presented to delegates at the summit.

However, the High Caouncil for National Reconciliation says it will vote on the proposed US government peace plan, which includes a transitional government.

The House of Representatives, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami party and a number of political figures will also present their ideas at the summit.

“We call on the Turkish Conference [delegates] to help bring an end to hostilities and stop the bloodshed as soon as possible [in order to pave the way] for successful negotiations for a political agreement; thus the region and the international community [show] support for a dignified and lasting peace,” said Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar.

Previously the High Council for National Reconciliation said the Turkish government had spoken to Afghan political figures and the Taliban about the talks. But the HCNR said the proposed US peace plan will be discussed.

“The US government’s plan which was shared with the Taliban, the High Council for National Reconciliation and the Presidential Palace will be discussed,” said Din Mohammad, HCNR deputy head.

While the Taliban welcomed the US proposal to hold the Istanbul Summit, the group said it has no specific plans to put to delegates.

“We accept any country that cooperates for the freedom and independence of Afghanistan, but we do not know when this meeting will take place and with what agenda,” said Mohammad Naeem, the Taliban’s spokesman.

However, differing opinions and a lack of consensus among Afghan officials and politicians have raised concerns in Kabul.

“The two sides that are participating at the Istanbul summit are the Taliban, who once flogged people, and the other side are politicians who have been busy exploiting [the people] for the past 20 years,” said Halima Sadaf Karimi, an MP.

While the exact date for the summit has not yet been announced, the HCNR said on Wednesday it will probably be held in the second week of April.