Senior Afghan leaders will fly to Doha for talks with the Taleban this week, as the group takes a hard stance on negotiations, even warning Turkey against plans to keep some troops in Afghanistan to run and guard Kabul’s main airport.
The eight-member delegation will include senior Afghan peace official Abdullah Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai, and is expected to discuss the speeding up of peace talks, a government official told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
The Taleban did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the talks, which are separate from the stalled intra-Afghan negotiations taking place between Taleban and Afghan government negotiators in the Qatari capital of Doha.
The news of the delegation’s visit came hours after the Taleban warned of “consequences” of plans to keep some Turkish troops in Afghanistan to run and guard Kabul airport after foreign forces pull out.
It was not immediately clear if the Kabul airport matter would be discussed between the Taleban and the senior Afghan delegation, expected to fly to Doha on Friday.
Ankara, which has offered to run and guard the airport in the capital after NATO withdraws, has been in talks with the United States on financial, political and logistical support.
Turkey has repeated that the airport must stay open to preserve diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, where a blast rocked Kabul on Tuesday and clashes have intensified across the country.
“If Turkish officials fail to reconsider their decision and continue the occupation of our country, the Islamic Emirate... will take a stand against them,” the Taleban said in a statement, referring to Turkey’s plan.