News / Asia

    Afghan Taliban to Open Office in Turkey

    Taliban fighters (undated photo)
    Taliban fighters (undated photo)
    Dorian Jones

    The Turkish foreign minister has confirmed that preparations are underway for opening an office in Turkey for the Afghan Taliban.  During a recent visit to Turkey, the president of Pakistan, together with his Turkish counterpart, made a commitment to support political initiatives to end the war in Afghanistan. Ankara has been calling for talks with the Taliban, and having strong ties with both Afghanistan and Pakistan is seen as a key element in facilitating talks.

    Turkey says it is willing to host a political office for Taliban militants from Afghanistan in order to promote talks to end the war there. An unnamed Afghan official is quoted as saying that planning for the office is already in progress.

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul voiced support for initiatives to stabilize conflict-torn Afghanistan at a joint press conference Wednesday with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari. Mr. Gul said these initiatives include efforts to improve dialogue with the Taliban.

    "We are interested in the Afghanistan issue in a very wide framework," said President Gul. "We will always take part in any activity that contributes to peace and aims for a permanent peace process. We are involved there not only in the war, but to help the Afghan people normalize life there."

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday confirmed that he held talks last month with Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former Afghan president who heads a peace council set up by the Afghan government to work toward a political solution.

    Turkey has traditional strong ties with both Afghanistan and Pakistan and has used those contacts successfully to mitigate Afghan-Pakistani tensions. Turkey also has several hundred soldiers stationed with the NATO-led ISAF forces in Afghanistan.  However, according to Soli Ozel, an international relations expert at Istanbul's Kadir Has University, their strictly non-combat role means all sides still view Turkey as neutral.

    "The Turks are a legitimate force in Kabul and may be contributing to at least the relative stability in that part of the country,"said Ozel. "Look, if you do have in Kabul a situation where other countries soldiers' are wearing Turkish uniforms because it's lot safer in the streets, that tells you something about the kind of prestige that the Turkish soldiers enjoy in Kabul."

    Turkish officials say they are waiting for a formal request from the Afghan government to open an office. Last December, Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed the initiative in principle at a summit with his Turkish and Pakistani counterparts in Istanbul.

    "It has been discussed with me previously by gentlemen, dignitaries close to the Taliban movement," said President Karzai. "The idea of Turkey serving as [a] place where gatherings take place, where a representation can be established in order to facilitate a reconciliation and integration, has been  discussed. If Turkey can be kind to provide for such a venue, we the government of Afghanistan will  be pleased and happy to see that facilitation take place by Turkey."

    For now, the Taliban is sending out conflicting messages over whether it would be prepared to talk. But Ankara is reportedly using all its diplomatic influence to find a political solution to the conflict. That stance is supported by the Turkish former civilian head of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, Hikmet Cetin, who says talking with the Taliban is a necessity.

    "Well, I do agree there should be some talk with them, because they are there," said Cetin. "We have to accept Taliban is an important element in Afghanistan and Pakistan and one way [or] another we have to deal with them.  Especially with the non-criminal ones. And if the Afghan government itself is able to go further for reconciliation and [is] supported by military as well, the situation would get better as well, I think."

    Observers say such sentiments are growing throughout the NATO-led forces and it is only a matter of time before some form of talks with the Taliban start. Turkey is working hard to be the venue for such talks.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora