Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Conference on Afghanistan ends in Moscow

Conference on Afghanistan ends in Moscow

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center, poses for a photo with the participants of the conference on Afghanistan bringing together representatives of the Afghan authorities and the Taliban in Moscow, Russia on November 9, 2018. India is participating at "non-official" level, NDTV reported.

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said the participation of both Afghan leaders and the Taliban was an "important contribution" aimed at creating "favourable conditions for the start of direct talks".

Last month, the US tried its own effort to bring both sides together when Afghan-American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad met with members of the Taliban in Qatar.

In his address, Lavrov said all countries of the region and the entire global community would like to see Afghanistan as a peaceful, independent and prospering country, free of terrorism and drug trafficking.

The meetings ended without the sides agreeing on a path to direct dialogue, the delegations from the Taliban and HPC said.

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Friday's Afghan delegation is made up of four representatives of the High Peace Council, a government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants, spokesman Sayed Ihsan Taheri said.

The Taliban delegation reiterated a demand for the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan, where they support the Kabul government, and called for a reform of the constitution "based on principles of Islamic religion, national interests, historical achievements and social justice".

Shaheen also denied accusations by the U.S. military that Russian Federation has supplied weapons to the Taliban, echoing a similar denial by Moscow. MEA also announced that PM Narendra Modi will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Maldivian president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih next week.

Zakharova revealed that the Taliban's five-member delegation would come from its Qatar-based "political office".

"This decision was taken following the visit of US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad", said Mohammad Faisal, spokesman for Foreign Affairs Ministry of Pakistan.

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The statement reminded other regional actors that "a peaceful Afghanistan can play a catalytic role in regional trade and development". Even as the talks began, officials in Afghanistan said a Taliban attack had killed 10 soldiers.

Some MPs said they don't see any positive impact of meetings on peace as the war continues unabated.

In both cases, the U.S. has had an active military presence inside the countries.

Sources privy to the discussions Friday told The Indian Express that the Indian representatives - former Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha and former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan T C A Raghavan - did not make any statement on behalf of New Delhi at the meeting.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, revealed on the eve of Friday's conference that delegates from 12 countries, including the United States, will attend the second "Moscow format consultations".

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The Afghan foreign ministry emphasised that the council did not represent the Afghan government at the meeting, however, but was acting as a "national" non-government institution.

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