Taliban in first talks outside Afghanistan
TALIBAN envoys have taken part for the first time in high-level international talks, meeting Afghan officials in Moscow as part of a Russian-sponsored peace effort.
Representatives from the militants’ Doha office said they were taking part alongside senior diplomats from the region to find “a peaceful solution to the issue of Afghanistan”.
Both the militants and Afghan government insisted the discussions were not formal negotiations. The meeting ended without any breakthrough.
The leader of the Taliban delegation said the movement was not ready to speak directly to Ashraf Ghani’s government and would instead negotiate with the United States.
The conference appeared to be Russia’s attempt to influence peace efforts which have been dominated by Washington. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said the participation of Afghan leaders and the Taliban was an “important contribution” aimed at creating “favourable conditions for the start of direct talks”.
A Taliban statement before the meeting said: “There will not be any sort of negotiations taking place with the delegation of the Kabul administration.”
Kabul said its representatives were not an official government delegation, but did acknowledge that they would “discuss the dynamics and details of initiating direct negotiations”.