Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Afghanistan won't attend peace talks in Moscow with Taliban: government sources

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan will not attend peace talks hosted by Russia, two senior government officials said on Wednesday, a decision that could scupper Moscow’s plans for a multinational conference also involving the Taliban to discuss the future of the country.

The decision not to attend the Moscow conference scheduled for Sept. 4 came just hours after Afghanistan’s top security official said he hoped Russia could press the Taliban insurgents into joining peace talks with the Kabul government.

Russia has invited 12 countries, including the United States, to the Moscow talks but Washington has also declined to attend. The Taliban, which this week rejected a government offer of a three-month ceasefire, have yet to say whether they will attend the Moscow talks.

“We have decided against attending the Moscow conference,” said an official of the Afghan foreign ministry, adding that the government would “hold direct talks” with the Taliban without the direct involvement of foreign powers. The official gave no reason for the decision. 

Nearly 40 years have passed since Moscow sent its troops into Afghanistan, beginning a bloody decade-long occupation and factional conflict which is still going on.

A Western diplomat in Kabul said Russia was seeking to increase its influence and improve its image in Afghanistan by inviting Taliban leaders for talks.

Back-channel diplomacy between the Taliban and a range of countries — including the United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia — has taken place over the years to end the latest phase of Afghanistan’s decades of war, which began with a U.S. invasion in 2001.- Read More

Afghanistan won't attend peace talks in Moscow with Taliban: government sources


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