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The Killid Group

Turkish ties

Written by Killid
Saturday, 12 November 2011 12:23

Turkish ties

The Istanbul conference on Afghanistan was meant to add 'momentum' to the upcoming second Bonn conference. Analysis by Lal Aqa Shirin.
On Nov. 2, Turkish President Abdullah Gul hosted a one-day conference in Istanbul. Turkey has been actively seeking a bigger regional role.
The conference drew regional players - China, India and Iran sent envoys - as well as western powers. President Hamid Karzai appealed to his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, to help him negotiate with the Taleban. The president said a peace process cannot succeed without the participation of Taleban leaders. "Our hope is that, with help from our brothers in Pakistan, we will manage to wean away the Taleban leadership from some of the well-established networks of support they enjoy outside Afghanistan and integrate them into the peace process," the president is quoted saying by the international media.
The president was clearly wooing his neighbour at the conference. It is in Kabul's interest that Islamabad participate in the Dec. 5 Bonn conference - Istanbul was a prelude to the end of the year conference.

Why Istanbul?
Why did Turkey hold the conference? The US has been trying to get Ankara - a member of NATO - to play a bigger role in Afghanistan. In recent months US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been in agreement on Libya - both called for Muammar Gaddafi to step down in April. They also termed the Syrian government's use of force against its people as "unacceptable", according to the White House. In fact, Erdogan's siding with the revolt in Damascus has reportedly turned relations with Iran - which were very close at one time - noticeably frosty in recent days. The leaders of Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan were in meetings on the sideline. 
President Karzai has to get commitments for Afghan security after 2014 at Bonn. Kabul has to sign strategic bilateral agreements, the first of which was with India. There are agreements in the pipeline with other countries including Britain and the US. France has been seeking a similar arrangement. There is no doubt Afghanistan - with or without the US-led foreign troops - is important for regional and international relations. If Istanbul was a curtain-raiser the final performance is in December.


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