Taliban: Russia meeting 'not about direct talks' with Kabul

Taliban: Russia meeting 'not about direct talks' with Kabul

Taliban: Russia meeting 'not about direct talks' with Kabul

He said that the participation of both Afghan leaders and the Taliban was an "important contribution" aimed at creating "favourable conditions for the start of direct talks".

This week the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said the Afghan government would not be sending a delegation to the summit but a High Peace Council (HPC) official said they would attend the meeting in an independent capacity. Khalilzad leads the US mission for Afghan peace in the area.

"This conference was not about direct talks", Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, Taliban spokesperon, told journalists in translated comments quoted by Interfax news agency.

He said the group would first discuss issues concerning the U.S. with the Americans and reiterated that their main demand was the withdrawal of foreign troops. "We will see what happens in the meeting", he said. "But, of course, so far these negotiations are at a very early stage, we haven't reached an agreement yet", he said. "For the first time, a delegation from the Taliban's Political Office in Doha will participate in an worldwide meeting of this level".

However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement has said that while the delegation will participate in the meet, it does not mean that they are going to hold talks with anyone.

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A Taliban delegation and envoys backed by the Afghan government attended multinational peace talks in Moscow on Friday, the first time such a meeting has taken place publicly.

He also said the Taliban does not consider the current government in Afghanistan as legitimate. "If China does find a solution, it will be indigestible for the USA", he added. "We appreciate the efforts of any country that tries to contribute to Afghan peace".

The Afghan government's rejection to participate in the meet on September 4 has been speculated to be a result of U.S. pressure.

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. This week, the White House's special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is touring the region, tasked with pressing the Taliban and the government to form negotiating teams.

"I am counting on you holding a serious and constructive conversation that will justify the hopes of the Afghan people", he said before the rest of the meeting was held behind closed doors at a Moscow hotel.

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As well as the five-member Taliban delegation, Russian Federation brought to the meeting several senior Afghan political figures, including some who have clashed with Ghani in the past.

He also denied reports of deliveries of Russian weapons to the Taliban, saying that they are not true.

Afghan Ambassador to Russia Qayum Kochai joined the group in Moscow.

Delegations from twelve countries have reportedly been invited including the delegation from Taliban's political office in Qatar.

The Afghan and Taliban delegations were divided at the roundtable only by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, presiding over the meeting on behalf of the host country.

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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.

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