Published: Sat, November 10, 2018

US Confirms It Will Send A Rep To Moscow Summit

US Confirms It Will Send A Rep To Moscow Summit

"Our participation at the meeting will be at the non-official level", Ministry of External Affairs' official spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, said.

He further stated, "India supports all efforts at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will preserve unity and plurality, and bring security, stability and prosperity to the country".

The meeting was billed by Russian Federation as an attempt to bring the Taliban and the US -backed Afghan government closer to direct peace talks, though little was expected to come out of the event, which both sides have emphasized is not a formal negotiation.

An official United States statement, released on Tuesday, said the upcoming Geneva Conference on Afghanistan and joint efforts to advance the Afghan peace process were the two key items Ambassador Wells discussed with Pakistani officials in Islamabad on Nov 6-7.

India has not participated in the multilateral meeting which involves the Taliban in the past, reported the daily.

Citing anonymous Russian diplomats, AA notes, "The President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mr. [Ashraf] Ghani, chose to send a delegation of the country's High Peace Council to the meeting".

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that "we reaffirm our position on the lack of alternative to a political settlement in Afghanistan and the need for active coordinated efforts by Afghanistan's neighbouring countries and regional partners".

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.

Instead, members of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, a body which oversees peace efforts but does not represent the government, attended the event, where they repeated President Ashraf Ghani's offer of peace talks without pre-conditions.

File image of Afghan Taliban.

Moscow, which said it invited representatives from the United States, India, Iran, China and Pakistan, as well as five former Soviet republics in Central Asia, hailed Friday's meetings as an opportunity to "open a new page" in Afghanistan's history.

It was reportedly the second time a USA diplomat has met with the Taliban after the Trump administration told its foreign representatives to seek direct engagement with the militant group. The U.S. military has accused Iran, Russia, and Pakistan of backing the Taliban. Regional players like Pakistan, China and Iran are among the participants of the meeting hosted by Russian Federation.

He told reporters at a Wednesday afternoon news briefing in Washington that the United States "stands ready to work with all interested parties to support and facilitate a peace process".

"Considering our main demand is the withdrawal of foreign forces, we will discuss a peaceful resolution with the Americans".

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.

Originally opposed to the idea of holding talks with the Taliban, Afghanistan's government had pulled out of the scheduled negotiations on September 4. But this time, it has managed to carefully balance Russian and USA interests, as it is sending the Afghan High Peace Council's representatives, instead of its foreign ministry representatives.

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