Afghanistan pulls Parliament speaker from UN peace conference

Written by By L, a, u, r, e, n, , G, i, e, l, A, l CNN (CNN) – Afghanistan’s Parliament speaker, Jawed Ludin, has pulled out of an international peace conference in New

Written by By L, a, u, r, e, n, , G, i, e, l, A, l


(CNN) – Afghanistan’s Parliament speaker, Jawed Ludin, has pulled out of an international peace conference in New York this week amid a push to include the Taliban in the international community’s efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan.

Ludin’s withdrawal throws the conference into doubt. A number of countries are attending, including the United States, but there is no decision on whether to put the Taliban representatives on the list of participants.

As the door remained open to talks, Ludin, who was in New York for the conference, appeared to support the Afghan government’s efforts to bring the Taliban into the peace process, something US President Donald Trump has repeatedly rejected.

During the conference Monday, Ludin said the “first step” in peace efforts in Afghanistan is creating a solution for the current security issue. He added, “It will not be just the Taliban, and it will not be just a way to disarm all Taliban.”

But the Conference also could have gained attention for Afghan Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah, who was leading a high-level delegation. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said earlier in the day that Abdullah would likely attend if he could do so, CNN confirmed.

However, earlier Monday, Pompeo was dismissive of media reports that Kabul was sending a high-level delegation to the conference.

“The fact that the Afghan government was sending a delegation is a positive thing,” Pompeo said. “But that does not mean that our delegation necessarily consists of the current government of Afghanistan, which is still in effect because we haven’t left.”

Pompeo continued, “The point is, there is no deal, and there’s no seat at the table yet” to discuss a peace agreement, he said.

There has been no decision yet on whether to officially invite the Taliban at the United Nations General Assembly Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York.

At a press conference last week, Trump said the United States had no intention of negotiating with the Taliban or to hold peace talks with them. Instead, he said he is interested in “comprehensive peace talks” that include all parties involved in the 14-year conflict in Afghanistan.

“We would hope to be able to bring a positive resolution to this horrendous war,” Trump said. “We would like for that to happen, and I am going to use every resource we have to make that happen.”

Trump’s lack of involvement in peace efforts has also been a cause of tension within the Trump administration. Vice President Mike Pence said a proposal to include the Taliban in peace talks had stalled and only a framework was being negotiated.

“We are just under way with that (framework) — the technical issues now and then all going toward the PDB (policy guidance) document,” Pence said in Washington at a think tank last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Pompeo reiterated the US’s support for Afghan Prime Minister Abdullah and expressed hope for a serious dialogue.

“We’re hopeful that the Afghans themselves are serious about turning the page to begin a serious discussion with the Taliban,” Pompeo said.

“The truth is they would like us to be serious about talking to them, talking about what the future holds, and the fact that we are, I think, going to continue to be there behind him every step of the way in terms of American support and commitment to making sure that he is a able partner.”

Last week, Afghanistan’s government stated that it was determined to restart talks with the Taliban in the near future, and it was ready to unveil its own peace plan.

“The Afghan government, which has paid a very heavy price in maintaining peace and security in Afghanistan, is determined to get serious talks on a ceasefire restarted on the positive steps that the Taliban are ready to make,” Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani said.

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