Moscow Summit: HPC urges peace talks revival, Taliban share demands

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Head- Deputy Chairman of the Afghanistan High Peace Council Din Mohammad Azizullah and Head of Political Office of the Taliban Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Head- Deputy Chairman of the Afghanistan High Peace Council Din Mohammad Azizullah and Head of Political Office of the Taliban Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai

Western officials and Ghani's government view the Moscow meeting with some suspicion, seeing it as an attempt by Russian Federation to push its way into a process that they say must be led by Afghanistan.

"I am counting on you holding a serious and constructive conversation that will justify the hopes of the Afghan people", he said before the rest of the meeting was held behind closed doors at a Moscow hotel.

Last week, Ambassador Wells visited Afghanistan and Pakistan, where she met senior officials of the two countries and discussed with them the ongoing U.S. and worldwide support to promote long-term peace, security, and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

"And we've been clear that no government, including Russian Federation, can be a substitute for the Afghan government in direct negotiations with the Taliban", Palladino said. The conference marks Moscow's attempt to get the Afghan authorities and the Taliban together at a table.

India's move of sending former diplomats to a meet where the Taliban delegates are expected to be present perhaps reflects a delicate act of balance and a sign of our commitment towards peace.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the USA had contacted Pakistan over the plans to have a trilateral meeting among Pakistan, China and Afghanistan in coming days, urging Islamabad to refrain from giving Beijing "too much importance" on the Afghanistan issue. While the Afghan Foreign Ministry won't participate in the meeting on Friday, the Afghan High Peace Council - a government-appointed body tasked to talk to Taliban on the reconciliation process - will be there.

The United States and the Afghan government turned down invitations to formally participate in the meeting on grounds that they support only direct talks between the government and the Taliban.

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"The United States and the Taliban are both set to attend for the first time a multilateral conference Russian Federation will host Friday in Moscow to discuss how to achieve peace and national reconciliation in Afghanistan", VOA reports. The U.S. military has accused Iran, Russia, and Pakistan of backing the Taliban.

They will not hold "any sort of negotiations" with the delegation of Kabul administration, he said.

Pakistan confirmed on Thursday the USA -led peace initiative prompted Islamabad to release a senior jailed Taliban leader last month.

Sources said the Indian government took the decision to send former diplomats in consultation with the Afghan government.

The Moscow meeting was initially scheduled to take place in September but was postponed after Kabul insisted that the process should be Afghan-led. New Delhi has always maintained that it will engage with the elected government of Afghanistan, and participating in the meeting would have given legitimacy to the Taliban.

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.

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.

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