Taliban join Moscow talks to kick start Afghanistan negotiations
10 November, 2018, 09:56
Opening the meeting earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia hopes "through joint efforts to open a new page in the history of Afghanistan".
Reportedly, the Moscow-format meet on Afghan conflict is not going to be attended by the Afghan Foreign Ministry, however, Afghan High Peace Council - which talks to the Taliban on the process of reconciliation is expected to be there, reported The Indian Express.
According to Reuters, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and CEO of Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan, Attar Mohammad Noor, have accepted the invitation. Taliban joined the talks attended by the diplomats from the six countries for the first time.
Taliban officials and Peace Council members have met at past forums elsewhere, and while no formal talks were ever held they have had some face-to face discussions.
"We have said we will be taking part in a meeting on Afghanistan which is hosted by Russian Federation; and we decided that our participation in the talks would be at the non-official level", the MEA's official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters.
"We will not tolerate a single United States soldier in Afghanistan", said the head of the Taliban delegation at the global meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, adding that the insurgent group's "main goal" is to "put an end" to the 17-year-long "invasion" led by the United States and its allies.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asked if sending a "non-official" delegation to talks including the Taliban was acceptable, then "why not a "non-official" dialogue with non-mainstream stake holders in J&K?"
"Russian Federation hopes to facilitate a "conducive atmosphere for bilateral or multilateral dialogue formats" to promote a negotiated solution to the Afghan problem as soon as possible", she stressed.
Shaheen also denied accusations by the US military that Russian Federation has supplied weapons to the Taliban, echoing a similar denial by Moscow.
The Taliban has confirmed that it will send representatives to Moscow. "The Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] will also give a detailed speech and clarify its views and policy about all aspects of the issue, including restoring peace and security". "Therefore, we won't hold negotiations with it. Kabul didn't even send a representative to this conference". The U.S. backs a call by Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani for the government to hold talks with the Taliban without pre-conditions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the USA military campaign in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks, but Moscow has grown increasingly critical of US actions as relations with Washington have soured, and is stepping up its own diplomatic outreach across the region.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Thursday confirmed the participation and said, "Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level". "However, only a group of people were invited and that reflects the intention of Taliban who are not yet willing to negotiate peace with the government". It also said that it attended the conference in a "non-official" capacity in a bid to bring back peace in Afghanistan.
The conference is Moscow's effort to get the Afghan authorities and the Taliban together at a table.
Marking a significant shift in US policy long sought by the terrorist group, the Trump administration has engaged in direct negotiations with the Taliban to end the war. "They want a US-sponsored solution to the issue".
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