Taliban at Afghanistan talks table today, Delhi sending ‘non-officials’
10 November, 2018, 00:29
A sustainable peace requires that all Afghans have a say in their country's future, the statement said.
The Moscow meeting will examine ways to "initiate direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban", a spokesman for the High Peace Council, Sayed Ehsan Tahiri, said by phone. The Taliban will also be part of the meeting. "For the first time, a delegation from the Taliban's Political Office in Doha will participate in an global meeting of this level".
The Afghan foreign ministry emphasised that the council did not represent the Afghan government at the meeting, however, but was acting as a "national" non-government institution.
Russia, which said it invited representatives from the United States as well as India, Iran, China and Pakistan, hailed the meeting as an opportunity to "open a new page" in Afghanistan´s history and seek an end to the war 17 years after the US-led invasion.
The Geneva conference will follow a 12-nation meeting in Moscow on Friday.
"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.
According to Sputnik news agency, Russian Federation has sent invitations for what is called the Moscow Format talks to Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the USA and the Afghan Taliban.
The Taliban are fighting the US -backed Kabul government to re-impose strict Islamic law and have stepped up attacks in strategic provinces.
The Taliban has confirmed that it will send representatives to Moscow.
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"This conference is not about holding negotiations with any party whatsoever; rather it is about finding a peaceful solution to the issue of Afghanistan".
"Participation in today's event should become an important contribution to the creation of favourable conditions for the launch of direct talks between the government, the Taliban movement and representatives of the wide range of the country's social and political circles", said the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, speaking during a short public introduction.
The Taliban has long refused to engage in negotiations with Kabul directly, arguing that it is a puppet government.
The Taliban issued a statement this week saying the conference was "not about negotiating with any particular side".
Kumar added that India's policy on Afghanistan remains unchanged. The US had declined to attend the discussions.
"This conference was not about direct talks", Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, Taliban spokesperon, told journalists in translated comments quoted by Interfax news agency. "There will not be any sort of negotiations taking place with the delegation of Kabul administration", he said.
Moscow has sought a greater role in worldwide diplomacy in recent years, with efforts at settling conflicts that often give a junior role to the US.
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.
Meanwhile, Taliban representatives in Qatar held a preliminary meeting with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad last month to discuss the group's conditions to end the 17-year war. Khalilzad leads the USA mission for Afghan peace in the area.
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