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Russian Federation brings together Afghan officials, Taliban in talks

Russian Federation brings together Afghan officials, Taliban in talks

It was for the Taliban and the Afghan delegation to answer, however, whether there will be any direct contact or interaction between the two sides, the Russian spokeswoman said when asked whether the two warring parties will have bilateral discussions. This is a significant development, and a major departure, since New Delhi has not participated in a multilateral meeting involving Taliban in the past.

Mr. Raghavan was High Commissioner to Islamabad (2013-2015) and is now the Director General of the government-run Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) think-tank based in Delhi. 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. This week, the White House's special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is touring the region, tasked with pressing the Taliban and the government to form negotiating teams.

The meeting on Friday demonstrated Moscow's renewed aspirations in Afghanistan nearly 30 years after the Soviet Union withdrew its battered forces.

Yesterday, Pakistan and Afghanistan held second meeting of the Refugee Working Group under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability at the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions in Islamabad.

Five Taliban envoys were led by Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, head of the Doha office and a former Taliban deputy foreign minister.

Khalilzad met Taliban leaders in Qatar last month as part of efforts to find a way to end the 17-year-long war in Afghanistan, according to the Islamist group that was ousted from power by USA -led forces in 2001.




Calling New Delhi's claim that it's talking with Taliban along with other stakeholders in Masco to discuss Afghan issue as "laughable", MLA Langate Er Rasheed on Friday said that New Delhi stands exposed for its "hypocrisy, double standards and confusions".

Maintaining that India supports "Afghan-led" reconciliation process, the MEA spokesperson said, "India supports all efforts at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will preserve unity and plurality, and bring security, stability and prosperity to the country".

Pakistan also supports the move and is likely to participate. Russian Federation is hosting the talks for peace in Afghanistan and has invited several countries including India, the US, Pakistan and China.

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

The Russian effort comes as the Trump administration is seeing its own renewed push for peace talks, even as the war in Afghanistan has intensified. This format has given Moscow a leadership position in the Afghanistan situation, at a time when the USA is ceding the space.

The Afghan delegation was headed by Deputy Minister for Afghan Ministry of Refugee Affairs Dr Alema Aslam, while Secretary SAFRON led the Pakistan side in the meeting, which discussed matters related to Afghan refugees and other Afghan nationals illegally residing in Pakistan. India will be participating in the Moscow conference but will not be indulging in any direct talks with the Taliban. But this time, it has managed to carefully balance Russian and United States interests, as it is sending the Afghan High Peace Council's representatives, instead of its foreign ministry representatives. United States troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion that was launched to dismantle al-Qaida and topple the Taliban.


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