KABUL: The Taliban will send representatives to new talks on Afghanistan taking place in Russia on Friday.
Moscow said last Saturday it would host the meeting to discuss ways to restart peace negotiations. The Taliban said on Tuesday it would dispatch “high-ranking” representatives from its political office in Qatar.
“This conference is not about negotiating with any particular side, rather it is a conference about holding comprehensive discussions on finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary and ending the American occupation,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.
The Afghan government will not attend but is sending members of the High Peace Council, the government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants. Moscow has also invited delegates from the US, India, Iran, China, Pakistan and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
Pakistan, which has been accused of providing support to the Taliban, would “definitely” attend, Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal said.
Najib Mahmoud, a political science professor at Kabul University, said other countries were gaining the upper hand in the peace process.
“The Afghan government is not attending because it does not want to harm its relations with America, but it sends a delegation from the High Peace Council to find out what is discussed,” he told Arab News
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Afghanistan’s chances for peace were “greater now” than in many years, but “the situation remains serious.” He added: “The Taliban must understand that continuing the fight is pointless and counterproductive.
“We need an Afghan-owned and led peace process. And it must be inclusive.”