Afghan leader proposes peace road map in three phases - document

Hamid Shalizi
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks during his inauguration as president, in Kabul

By Hamid Shalizi

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will put forward a three-phase peace roadmap for Afghanistan during a proposed meeting in Turkey, seeking an agreement with the Taliban and a ceasefire before elections, a document seen by Reuters shows.

Washington is pushing for a conference to be hosted by Turkey, with U.N. involvement, this month to finalise a peace deal between the government and the Taliban as a May 1 deadline looms for the withdrawal of all foreign troops.

Ghani's plan will be presented as a counter to proposals put forward by Washington, rejected by the Afghan government, that envisage immediately drawing up a new legal system for an interim administration to include Taliban representatives.

The document shows Ghani's "Reaching an Endstate" proposal will include, in the first phase, a consensus on a political settlement and an internationally monitored ceasefire.

The second phase will be holding a presidential election and the establishment of a "government of peace" and implementation arrangements for moving towards the new political system.

The third phase will involve building a "constitutional framework, reintegration of refugees and development" for Afghanistan moving forward.

A senior government official said Ghani has already shared his road map with foreign capitals.

A date for the Turkey meeting is yet to be decided, but multiple sources told Reuters it could take place in two weeks' time.

The Afghan government and a number of politicians said they would have to agree on an agenda with the Taliban before the meeting.

In a statement last month, the Taliban threatened to resume hostilities against foreign troops in Afghanistan if they did not meet the May 1 deadline envisaged in an agreement between the insurgents and the Trump administration last year.

U.S. President Joe Biden said this month it would be "hard" to withdraw the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 1 "just in terms of tactical reasons", but he said he did not think they still would be there next year.

A senior government official said the Taliban was willing to extend the May 1 dateline and would not resume attacks against foreign forces in exchange for the release of thousands of their prisoners held by the Kabul authorities.

Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesman in Qatar, said no such offer had been made.

(Additional reporting by Orooj Hakimi and Qadir Sediqi; Editing by Alison Williams)