Turkey to host regional meeting on Afghanistan

LONDON (Reuters) - Turkey will host a meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours later this month in preparation for an international conference in London, Turkey said on Tuesday.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu smiles during a news conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London January 12, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The regional meeting on Afghanistan will be held in Turkey on January 26, a day after a previously-announced meeting there of the presidents of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference in London.

The two meetings will pave the way for an international conference in London on Jan. 28, designed to chart a path to greater Afghan responsibility for its own security.

“There should be more Afghanisation in this process. There should be more regional ownership and there should be more international commitment,” Davutoglu said after talks with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

He said the Jan. 25 three-party meeting aimed to encourage much broader cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The next day, the 26th, we will have a regional conference in Turkey to assure this regional ownership (of the Afghan situation),” he said.

He did not say which countries would attend that meeting or how high-ranking the participants would be.

The meetings were part of a consistent strategy on Afghanistan agreed between Turkey and Britain, he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama is sending 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan as part of a strategy to speed up training of Afghan forces and press President Hamid Karzai to improve governance after his re-election in a fraud-tainted vote last August. Last year was by far the deadliest year of the Afghan war for Western forces.

Miliband said an important aspect of the London conference would be to look at how Afghanistan’s neighbours could help support stability in Afghanistan.

The regional meeting, which he said would be held in Istanbul, would “ensure that the region itself takes ownership of the development of ideas, and possibly structures, for how the countries of the region could work with Afghanistan,” Miliband said.

Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Matthew Jones