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Turkmenistan Offers to Host Afghan Peace Talks

Wednesday 18 March 2015

ISLAMABAD (The Express Tribune) – As uncertainty persists on whether the Taliban will sit for face-to-face talks with the Afghan government, Turkmenistan has offered to host the peace process.

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Sapar Berdiniyazov
At the London Conference on Afghanistan took place on 4 December 2014, co-hosted by the governments of the UK and Afghanistan. The Conference provided a platform for the government of Afghanistan to set out its vision for reform and for the international community to demonstrate enduring solidarity and support for Afghanistan.

Delivering a public talk on “Turkmenistan’s Policy of Neutrality and Peace” at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad on Wednesday, Ambassador at Large of Turkmenistan Sapar Berdiniyazov, justified the motivation for his country to host the talks with the multi-billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project which cannot be realised without peace in Afghanistan.

When asked about the possible role his country may play, the Ambassador said: “If Afghan parties ask us, Turkmenistan is available a venue for the talks.” He added that his country is neutral and will be ready to facilitate the peace process. He recalled that his country had hosted senior Afghan leaders including Burhanuddin Rabbani, Abdul Rashid Dostam, Ismail Khan previously. He added that even the Taliban had visited Turkmenistan.

Several countries have offered to facilitate the peace process; however, both the Afghan government and the Taliban have failed to remove the confusion over the talks.

Ambassador Berdiniyazov continued that violence in Afghanistan is seen a serious setback for the talks. His comments came on a day when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive laden vehicle into the building of Helmand’s governor and killed at least seven civilians and injured nearly 40 others.

Kabul will host the next TAPI gas pipeline summit during April. The officials of the concerned nations will finalize the inception date of the project during the upcoming meeting. Three companies – one each from France, Russia and China – have expressed interest in becoming the consortium leader for financing the multibillion-dollar project. France’s Total is most likely to win the contract, media reports suggest.

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