The Failure Of Peace Talks Between The Afghan Government And The Taliban
By AFP 2 hours ago
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Russia on Friday organized an international meeting on Afghanistan with the participation of a Taliban delegation, but participants acknowledged that no progress has been made to start a direct dialogue between the rebels and the Afghan government.
The Taliban delegation and the Supreme Council for Peace, an Afghan government body, said the talks, held in closed sessions at a Moscow hotel, ended without the parties agreeing to start a direct dialogue.
"This conference was not about direct negotiations," Taliban spokesman Mohammad Abbas Stankzai told reporters, quoted by the Interfax news agency.
He added that the Taliban "does not recognize the legitimacy of the current government and therefore will not conduct any negotiations with them. Since our main demand is the withdrawal of foreign troops, we will discuss a peaceful solution with the Americans. "
The Taliban announced that it will send to Moscow a high-level delegation of five representatives of its political bureau.
For his part, said a member of the delegation of the Supreme Council for Peace, Haji Mohammed Friday, told reporters that Russia invited participants to a new meeting on Afghanistan, but no agreement was reached on direct negotiations with the Taliban, RIA Novosti reported.
The meeting opened with a public meeting during which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed the participants by saying that they "do not take into account their personal or class interests, but the interests of the Afghan people ... to open a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan through joint efforts."
Lavrov said the presence of representatives of a government body and the Taliban was "an important contribution ... to starting direct negotiations."
The Russian foreign ministry said the Taliban were participating for the first time in an international meeting at this level.
The Afghan delegation included four representatives of the Supreme Council for Peace, a government body tasked with reconciliation efforts with the rebels, its spokesman Syed Ihsan Tahiri said.
But the Afghan Foreign Ministry confirmed that the Council does not represent the Afghan government at the meeting, but is a "national".
Russia has invited the United States, India, Iran, China, Pakistan and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia to five.
For its part, Washington announced that a representative of its embassy in Moscow will attend the meeting as an observer.
"All countries should support a direct dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban in order to reach an end to the war," Assistant State Department spokeswoman Robert Paladino told reporters on Wednesday.
"But no government, including Russia, can replace the Afghan government in direct negotiations with the Taliban."
The Russian initiative comes at a critical time, as a recent US report reported that the area of territory under the control of the Afghan government is today at the lowest level in three years and that the casualties among government forces are at the highest level.
Washington has repeatedly tried to hold direct negotiations with the Taliban. Representatives of the Taliban have met with US officials at least twice in Qatar in recent months, most recently on 12 October with the participation of new US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
The Taliban, for their part, refuse to negotiate with the Kabul government because they consider it illegitimate and affiliated with the American "occupation" forces and therefore wants to negotiate directly with Washington.