Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Russia Challenges US in Hosting Taliban at Afghan Talks

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Steven Clarke | 09 November, 2018, 19:53

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 U.S. and the Afghan Taliban.

US State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino on Wednesday night confirmed the US embassy in Moscow would send a representative to Friday's meeting in the Russian capital on Afghanistan.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday that in coordination with the Afghan government, the USA embassy in Moscow "will send a representative to the working level to observe the discussions". "This will be assessed at the conference, we hope to convey good news to the people of Afghanistan about direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the near future", said HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri.

Russian media meanwhile said the Russian Foreign Ministry had sent invitations to Afghanistan, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, the USA and other countries.

Citing anonymous Russian diplomats, AA notes, "The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mr. [Ashraf] Ghani, chose to send a delegation of the country's High Peace Council to the meeting".

MEA's statement came after National Conference leader Omar Abdullah lashed out at the government over the reports on Friday, and asked the Narendra Modi-led government why it can not hold talks on similar lines with "non-mainstream stakeholders" in Jammu and Kashmir to resolve the state's "eroded autonomy".

US officials have held two meetings with the Qatar-based Taliban negotiators since July. "For the first time, a delegation from the Taliban's Political Office in Doha will participate in an worldwide meeting of this level".

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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", he added.

Russia's first attempt to hold the meeting in September fell through after the Afghan authorities refused to attend.

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

Nevertheless, VOA quotes the Trump administration as saying the us will attend in coordination with Kabul.

Delegations from twelve countries have reportedly been invited including the delegation from Taliban's political office in Qatar.

"With participation in the meeting, the worldwide status of the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] will be strengthened even further Such diplomatic efforts of the Islamic Emirate showcase the active, clear and independent diplomacy and policy of the Islamic Emirate in the political field", asserted the insurgent spokesman. "The latest talks occurred last month where newly appointed special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalamay Khalilzad, led the US team".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has suggested that the presence of U.S. -NATO-led troops is up for discussion.

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