Afghan rivals say no closer to direct talks after Moscow meeting

Pauline Gross
November 10, 2018

"I have no doubts that the other participants of the Moscow format share this approach and that we all go by basic national interests of the Afghan people".

Kumar added that India supports all efforts at peace and reconciliation in the strife-torn country and bring stability in the region.

The meeting between the government officials and the Taliban "will be an important contribution to providing favorable conditions for the start of direct talks between the government and the Taliban movement", Lavrov said.

HPC officials said they would send a delegation, led by Hajji Deen Mohammad, the deputy head of the peace council but that no talks would be held with the Taliban.

The Russian government welcomed India's decision to participate in the talks on November 9.

The development marks a major shift in New Delhi's policy as this is the first time ever that India will attend a forum in which the Taliban will be present.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that "we reaffirm our position on the lack of alternative to a political settlement in Afghanistan and the need for active coordinated efforts by Afghanistan's neighbouring countries and regional partners".

Sources told IANS that Amar Sinha, former Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry who also served as India's Ambassador to Afghanistan, and T.C.A. Raghavan, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, will represent New Delhi at the Moscow talks.

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Russian Federation had sent invitations to the talks to Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, the United States and the Afghan Taliban.

The conference is Moscow's effort to get the Afghan authorities and the Taliban together at a table.

Russia's foreign ministry touted the attendance of the Taliban, who sent a five-person delegation to Moscow from their political office in Doha, as unprecedented for an global conference aimed at peace in Afghanistan, although the meeting produced few concrete results.

It was reportedly the second time a USA diplomat has met with the Taliban after the Trump administration told its foreign representatives to seek direct engagement with the militant group.

Shaheen also denied accusations by the US military that Russian Federation has supplied weapons to the Taliban, echoing a similar denial by Moscow.

Newly appointed United States peace envoy Khalilzad has been trying to convince the Taliban to agree to negotiate an end to the war and there are fears the Russian meeting could derail those efforts. Pakistan's foreign office has confirmed Islamabad's participation in the talks. Even as the talks began, officials in Afghanistan said a Taliban attack had killed 10 soldiers.

The meeting was earlier scheduled for September 4, which was called off after the Afghan government pulled out at the last moment.

Talking to the Taliban is ample proof that the Taliban are not "terrorists" but the real stake holders in Afghanistan and without their participation, no peace can be achieved in the region. 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.

Other reports by GizPress

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