As peace efforts stalled, Germany's Defense Ministry suggested NATO military planners were contemplating a possible withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan as early as July 4. That's more than two months ahead of the planned Sept. 11 pullout date.
"The Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul are currently considering whether to shorten the withdrawal period," said German Defense Ministry spokesman David Helmbold. "The 4th of July is now being considered as a pullout date. The ministry informed the (German parliament's) defense committee about this today."
Still, the latest delay in getting Afghanistan's warring sides to hammer out a peace deal underscored the difficulties the Biden administration and NATO are facing in orchestrating an orderly exit from conflict-scarred Afghanistan.
Both have said they would begin withdrawing their remaining troops — a total of close to 13,000 — from the country on May 1 and complete the pullout by Sept. 11, no matter what.
The decision to delay the conference came several days after Taliban insurgents, who are key to peace efforts, dismissed the U.S.-promoted conference in Istanbul as a political spectacle serving American interests.
No new date was given for the conference, which was to have started Saturday under the sponsorship of the United Nations, Turkey and Qatar. Turkey's foreign minister said the conference was delayed until after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends in mid-May.
Just hours before the announcement of the postponement, a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of Afghan security personnel, wounding seven people in the capital Kabul. The Interior Ministry said civilians and security personnel were among the wounded.