India Confirms Participation in Afghan Peace Talks in Moscow

Taliban join Moscow talks to kick start Afghanistan negotiations

Taliban join Moscow talks to kick start Afghanistan negotiations

"Don't know how people are concluding that there will be talks with the Taliban, its a meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow", said Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of MEA.

"We are aware that the Russian Federation is hosting a meeting in Moscow on November 9 on Afghanistan..."

Last week, Ambassador Wells visited Afghanistan and Pakistan, where she met senior officials of the two countries and discussed with them the ongoing United States and global support to promote long-term peace, security, and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

The Afghan government and the Taliban both denied that the conference marked direct negotiations for peace.

The Afghan delegation is made up of four representatives of the High Peace Council, a government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants, spokesman Sayed Ihsan Taheri said. 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. The Taliban will also be part of the meeting.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the U.S. had contacted Pakistan over the plans to have a trilateral meeting among Pakistan, China and Afghanistan in coming days, urging Islamabad to refrain from giving Beijing "too much importance" on the Afghanistan issue.

A Taliban delegation on Friday attended a diplomatic conference in Russian Federation for the first time, in a move that underscored Moscow's keenness to play a role in the Afghan peace process, but the Kabul government sent no official representative.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi later said that a trilateral meeting among Pakistan, China and Afghanistan would be held in December to discuss the Afghan issue. The U.S. military has accused Iran, Russia, and Pakistan of backing the Taliban.

The Taliban said they would continue direct negotiations with Washington, which have been spearheaded by the USA diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad.

They will not hold "any sort of negotiations" with the delegation of Kabul administration, he said.

Newly appointed United States peace envoy Khalilzad has been trying to convince the Taliban to agree to negotiate an end to the war and there are fears the Russian meeting could derail those efforts.

Haji Din Mohammad Azizullah, head of the Kabul delegation, confirmed that he had "brief talks" with the Taliban members at a working lunch, characterising the talks as "friendly", according to Anadolu Agency.

The last such meeting proposed for September 4 was called off at the last moment after the Afghan government pulled out. This time, the Afghan government hasn't sent its envoys, but several members of the government-appointed Peace Council are attending the event.

The convention for Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) had Deputy Minister of Refugees and Repatriation, Dr. Alema lead the Afghan delegation while Mr. Mohammad Aslam, Secretary SAFRON headed the Pakistan side.

A U.S. government watchdog last week said Kabul´s control of Afghanistan had slipped in recent months as local security forces suffered heavy casualties while making minimal or no progress against the Taliban.

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