Washington-backed Afghan peace conference in Istanbul is postponed until celebrations for holy month of Ramadan end in mid-May, Ankara says.

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, center, arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for attending an international peace conference in Moscow on March 18, 2021.
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, center, arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for attending an international peace conference in Moscow on March 18, 2021. (AP)

An international peace conference on Afghanistan scheduled for April 24 has been postponed, Turkey's foreign minister said. 

"Following consultations with Qatar, the US and the UN, we decided to postpone the talks," until celebrations for the holy month of Ramadan end in mid-May, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told HaberTurk television in an interview on Tuesday.

The meeting was scheduled to fast-track an agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government in light of the announcement by Washington that foreign troops would leave Afghanistan by September 11.

Turkey had first announced the conference, co-sponsored by the United Nations and Qatar, to run from April 24 to May 4.

Citing the unclearness of delegations in the talks Cavusoglu said: "We believed it would be useful to postpone."

READ MORE: Turkey, US discuss Afghan peace process ahead of crucial Istanbul summit

US troop withdrawal 

An Afghan government spokesman declined comment on the matter. 

Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem told Reuters news agency in a text message that the group did not have any information about the postponement, and that he could not say anything about future dates for the conference post Ramadan.

The Taliban had earlier refused to attend any summits until all foreign forces were pulled out of Afghanistan. The United States and Taliban last year agreed that all foreign forces would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by May 1 – a date that was pushed back last week by US President Biden.

The US is trying to add urgency to long-stalled peace talks that could finally see it end a military involvement in Afghanistan that began in response to the 2001 terror attacks on Washington and New York.

Doha talks

Ankara said last week the talks would be between representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban. 

Taliban and Afghan government negotiators began peace talks last year in the Qatari capital of Doha, but progress was slow and violence continued to escalate in Afghanistan.

Washington was attempting to speed up the process, which included pushing for the summit in Turkey that was to be attended by over 20 countries and global bodies.

READ MORE: US withdrawal from Afghanistan is a pandora's box

Source: TRTWorld and agencies