Tal­iban says not ready for di­rect talks with Kabul

Afghan gov­ern­ment asks Tal­iban to name date and place for di­rect talks, but Tal­iban re­jects le­git­i­macy of Kabul gov­ern­ment

Daily Messenger - - Front Page -

MOSCOW: As the sec­ond round of the Moscow for­mat con­sul­ta­tions on Afghanistan ended in the Rus­sian cap­i­tal, the Afghan gov­ern­ment and Tal­iban still seemed far apart and un­likely to ne­go­ti­ate un­medi­ated with­out a break­through.

Par­tic­i­pants at the meet­ing fo­cused on launch­ing di­rect in­ter-Afghan di­a­logue aim­ing at sta­bi­liza­tion of the coun­try and “agreed to con­tinue con­sul­ta­tions within the frame­work of this mech­a­nism," the Rus­sian For­eign Min­istry said in a fi­nal com­mu­nique fol­low­ing the meet­ing.

Din Mo­ham­mad Az­izul­lah, head of the Afghan gov­ern­ment del­e­ga­tion, con­firmed that he had "brief talks" with the Tal­iban mem­bers at a work­ing lunch, char­ac­teriz- ing the talks as "friendly."

But Sher Mo­ham­mad Ab­bas Stanikzai, who led the Tal­iban group, re­it­er­ated that the Tal­iban does not see the cur­rent gov­ern­ment in Kabul as le­git­i­mate.

"This gov­ern­ment does not rep­re­sent the peo­ple of Afghanistan, so we re­ject di­rect con­tact with them be­fore the prob­lem with the U.S. is solved. There­fore, we will talk with the Amer­i­cans, es­pe­cially about the with­drawal of troops," he said.

"We met with the Amer­i­can side at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble and asked them to leave Afghanistan. But, of course, so far th­ese ne­go­ti­a­tions are at a very early stage, we haven’t reached an agree­ment yet," he said.

The meet­ing marked the first time the Afghan gov­ern­ment and Tal­iban meet for di­rect talks at a high level.

The con­fer­ence was held at the level of deputy for­eign min­is­ters and re­lated spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Ad­dress­ing par­tic­i­pants at the start of the con­fer­ence, Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov said the meet­ing is meant to seek paths to na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Afghanistan.

Be­fore the meet­ing, Habiba Sarabi, a mem­ber of the Afghan High Peace Coun­cil del­e­ga­tion, said the Afghan gov­ern­ment del­e­ga­tion came to Moscow to talk to the Tal­iban.

"Our ex­pec­ta­tions are to talk to the Tal­iban mem­bers at this meet­ing," she said.

She added: "We came here for a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion. We ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­forts of any coun­try that tries to con­trib­ute to Afghan peace."

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