Russia Challenges US in Hosting Taliban at Afghan Talks

Russia Challenges US in Hosting Taliban at Afghan Talks

Ministry of External Affairs' official spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar said, "Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level". Kumar also slammed the opposition parties for their remarks in this regard and questioned, "Don't know how are people concluding that India will hold talks with the Taliban".

With over 60 of Afghanistan's worldwide allies scheduled to attend the Geneva conference, the United States hopes that the meeting "will send a strong signal of the global community's resolve and commitment to ending Afghanistan's decades-long conflict", Ms Nauert said.

"If any process is consistent with our policy on Afghanistan then we will be part of it and our policy on Afghanistan is that we will be supporting any efforts which will help in usher peace in the region", he said.

"We've been clear that no government, including Russian Federation, can be a substitute for the Afghan government in direct negotiations with the Taliban", he added. After the Afghan government cancelled its participation, India too followed suit on the pretext that it would be untenable for New Delhi's representatives to share the table with a Taliban delegation - when Afghanistan's democratically-elected government would be staying away.

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.

The first round of the Moscow format was held on April 14 previous year, when India was represented by Mittal, along with deputy foreign ministers and senior officials from Afghanistan, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

India on Thursday said it would participate, at a "non-official level", in the Moscow format meeting on Afghanistan, which will be attended by a Taliban delegation.

"Where did we say that there will be talks with the Taliban?" The Afghan government refused to send its officials to the meeting but has allowed a delegation of the country's High Peace Council to take part in the event.

The Taliban are fighting the US -backed Kabul government to re-impose strict Islamic law and have stepped up attacks in strategic provinces.

Apart from the Taliban political leadership based in Doha, and the HPC from Kabul, the Russian government has invited delegations from India, Pakistan, the U.S., China, Iran and five Central Asian Republics.

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.

A Russian proposal to hold the talks on September 4 had to be cancelled after the United States pulled out of them, and the Ghani government opposed them. "He was released to provide impetus to the peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan", said Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal.

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". Instead, the Afghan government sent members of the High Peace Council, a body set up to try to get peace negotiations started.

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