Russia has offered to host peace talks between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, the Russian foreign ministry said after hosting diplomats from the regional countries for consultations on the Afghan issue in Moscow. “The third round of consultations on the Afghan issue was attended by representatives of Russia, Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan,” the Russian Tass news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry statement, as saying.
This was the third meeting Russia has hosted in four months to push for political negotiations. The United States had been invited to take part in the consultations, but it refused the invitation. “I think just to end it, we just felt that these talks – it was unclear to us what the purpose was,” U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said earlier this week explaining Washington’s absence. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, ways and means to coordinate regional efforts for facilitating the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan and bringing peace there topped the agenda.
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The statement said the participants stressed that there was no military solution to the Afghan crisis and the only way to resolve it was by ensuring a national reconciliation using political methods in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions. “The parties reiterated their support for efforts being made by the Kabul government and the country’s social and political circles which are aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan … The parties also called upon Taliban leaders to abandon their activities aimed at using military force to resolve the conflict and turn to building direct dialogue on the national reconciliation with the Afghan government,” said the statement.
“The … participants welcomed Russia’s proposal to provide a platform for the intra-Afghan talks,” the statement added. The participants also agreed to continue consultations in the Moscow format. Russia has been leading the regional initiative since the trilateral meeting between China, Pakistan and Russia was held in Moscow in late December last year. The talks were expanded to six nations in February this year. Kabul had opposed Russian proposal during the February meeting to invite the Taliban to the April 14 meeting. According to the Express Tribune, Additional Secretary Tasnim Aslam led the Pakistan team.