Taliban to send delegation to Moscow peace conference

Kabul, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- The Taliban confirmed on Monday that they would send a “high-level” delegation to participate in the upcoming international peace conference in Moscow, set to be held on Mar. 18 to push forward the stalled intra-Afghan peace negotiations, which will also be attended by the Afghan government.

“Led by Mullah Baradar Akhund, deputy chief of political Affairs and head of the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban address themselves), a 10-member high-level delegation (…) will attend the upcoming Moscow meeting,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told EFE.

Apart from Kabul’s representatives and the insurgents, the multilateral event in Moscow is also expected to be attended by special envoys from Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan.

Afghanistan’s minister of foreign affairs and the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) are preparing for the Moscow meet, Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib had said on Saturday.

Mohib said that the government would choose its representatives in the conference once more information was available on the seniority level of the delegation being sent by the Taliban.

The Moscow conference is part of international efforts to speed up the intra-Afghan peace negotiations that kicked off on Sep. 12 in Doha but have failed to produce significant advances even after six months of dialog.

At the same time, Turkey is also organizing an international conference in April on the suggestion of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, aiming to boost the Afghan peace process.

As part of these efforts, the US special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been on a trip to Afghanistan, Qatar and other countries of the region during the past two weeks to meet officials.

“President Ashraf Ghani today afternoon met with Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad in the presidential palace,” Ghani’s office said on Mar. 6, adding that “the two sides discussed and exchanged views on the peace process, and next steps in this regard.”

Khalilzad also met the president of the HCNR, Abdullah Abdullah, and talked about ” the Peace Process, new initiatives, latest political developments and steps forward.”

“We reiterated our call for a political settlement and acceleration of the peace efforts,” Abdullah tweeted after the meeting. EFE-EPA


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