Peace talks in Moscow 'not about holding negotiations', say Taliban

Lester Mason
November 9, 2018

Russia hopes "through joint efforts to open a new page in the history of Afghanistan", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said as the talks opened at a Moscow hotel on Friday morning.

Moscow on Friday hosted worldwide talks on Afghanistan aimed at kickstarting direct negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban militant group, both of whom sent delegations, AFP reported. But this time, it has managed to carefully balance Russian and U.S. interests, as it is sending the Afghan High Peace Council's representatives, instead of its foreign ministry representatives.

The Afghan government did not send direct representatives to Friday's talks, electing instead to send members of the peace council "in its own capacity as a national but non-government institution".

The US Embassy in Moscow has sent a diplomat to observe Friday's discussions at the meeting which is being attended by representatives from Iran, China, Pakistan and other countries.

"The Russian side reaffirms its position that there is no alternative to a political settlement in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, as well as Afghanistan's regional partners, need to actively work and coordinate their efforts in this direction", Zakharova told a weekly news conference in Moscow.

"The United States believes that all countries should support direct dialogue between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to reach an end to the war and we have been clear that no government, including Russian Federation, can be a substitute for the Afghan government in direct negotiations with the Taliban". "Therefore, we won't hold negotiations with it. Kabul didn't even send a representative to this conference". The Afghan government refused to send its officials to the meeting but has allowed a delegation of the country's High Peace Council to take part in the event.

The Taliban has refused direct talks with the Afghan government, which it views as a US puppet, saying it will only negotiate the end of the 17-year war directly with Washington. "Given how keen Kabul is to launch a peace process, amid a strengthening insurgency and intensifying violence, it recognizes that any meeting about a peace process with Taliban participation is worth attending".

In a November 6 statement, the jihadi group said, "It is a conference about holding comprehensive discussions on finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary and ending American occupation".

The Moscow-format meeting on Afghanistan will be held on November 9 and representatives of the Afghan Taliban radical movement will take part in it, the Russian Foreign Ministry had said last week. "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".

Moscow has sought a greater role in global diplomacy in recent years, with efforts at settling conflicts that often give a junior role to the US.

In both cases, the United States has had an active military presence inside the countries.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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