Afghan government will not attend Moscow conference

Salaam Times

KABUL -- The Afghan government will not attend peace talks scheduled for September 4 in Moscow, a spokesperson for the Afghan Foreign Ministry said Wednesday (August 22).

"We have made [it] clear that the peace process needs to be carried out under the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," said Sebghat Ahmadi, according to Ariana News. "Any event which is taking place on Afghanistan ... or [an] event which is expected to discuss Afghanistan should be in [the] axis of Afghanistan."

The Afghan government intends to "hold direct talks" with the Taliban without foreign countries' direct involvement, said an unidentified Foreign Ministry official, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Other countries invited to the Moscow talks include China, India, Iran, Pakistan and the five Central Asian republics.

It remains unclear which if any of these countries will attend.

The Taliban will attend, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed, according to RFE/RL.

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, chief of the Taliban's political office in Doha, Qatar, is likely to lead the militant group's delegation.

Afghan National Security Adviser Muhammad Hanif Atmar told Russian Ambassador to Afghanistan Alexander Mantytskiy that the Kremlin should "put pressure on the the Taliban to begin negotiations with the Afghan government", said Atmar's office Wednesday, according to Al Jazeera.

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