Istanbul Summit Likely to Convene This Week, Says Saleh

Kabul: In one of the most definite hints regarding the date of the Istanbul Summit, for which no formal announcement has been made as of yet, Amrullah Saleh, the country’s first vice-president, said that the Turkish Summit is likely to convene this week and has three slated agendas.

Speaking at a gathering in Koohdaman, north of Kabul, on Sunday, Saleh said that agreement on values, ceasefire and establishing a government of peace are among the agendas for the Turkish summit. He added that Zalmai Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for peace in Afghanistan, had discussed the three agendas of the Istanbul Summit with Afghan government officials during his recent visit to Kabul.

Saleh said that agreeing on principles and values means that the Taliban will have to accept that Afghanistan will not become terrorist safe haven. Till, the Taliban accepts this, the negotiations will not proceed further.

He also stated that releasing 5,000 Taliban prisoners was one of the biggest mistakes of the government and they will not repeat the mistake. According to him, among these Taliban prisoners were major drug traffickers who were released from prison under the guise of members of the group in exchange for bribes to the Taliban.

Regarding the ceasefire, the first vice-president said that the Taliban must accept a ceasefire if they want the people to support the current peace process. “It is very difficult for us to make progress in peace talks, if there’s no understanding and mutual acceptance and people are under threat of suicide killings and explosions,” Saleh said.

Addressing the Taliban, Saleh said, “We are committed to serious negotiations if the Taliban stops violence and agrees to a ceasefire.
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Regarding the future government, Amrullah Saleh said that in the event of any possible agreement at the Istanbul summit, they will again consult with different segments of the people through a consultative Loya Jirga.

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