Afghanistan rejects Russia’s invitation for talks with Taliban

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Kabul, Aug 23 (IANS) Afghanistan has said it would not participate in peace talks with the Taliban, to be hosted by Russia in Moscow in the beginning of September.

“Afghanistan would not attend the Moscow talks and meeting. We will not participate, the peace process should be held under the leadership of the Afghan government and should be Afghan-led,” Sibghatullah Ahmadi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quoted as saying by TOLO News on Wednesday.

Afghanistan’s decision of not participating in the talks, to which 12 other countries have been invited, could come as a blow to the Kremlin’s initiative scheduled for September 4.

“The processes will give no result and will achieve nothing in which Afghanistan is not taken in the loop and Afghanistan is not accepted as the main player and pillar,” Ahmadi said.

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However, a former Taliban political figure Sayed Akbar Agha said the Taliban will attend the meeting and will start discussions on the prospects of peace in Afghanistan with countries in the region.

“Taliban has agreed on the Moscow talks and they will attend it. These talks are related to Asia. Foreign forces have come to Asian countries and there are concerns among these countries about it. All these countries want foreign forces to withdraw from Afghanistan,” he said.

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, head of the Taliban’s political office, will lead the militant group’s delegation in the talks, reports say.

The main objective of the Moscow Format according to the organizers was to promote the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan and establishment of peace in the country, which has been steeped in conflict since American troops ousted the Taliban in 2001.

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The US also rejected Moscow’s invitation to the talks but delegations from Russia, Pakistan, China, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan reportedly accepted the invitation.

On April 14, 2017, Afghanistan participated in one of the first six-party peace talks hosted by Russia with the same objective although it did not yield any concrete results.

The Taliban and the Afghan government have held only one official meeting in July 2015 but the talks were suspended after Afghanistan revealed that Mullah Omar, the founder of the insurgent group, had died in 2013.

–IANS

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