Afghan peace talks to take place in Moscow

Afghan peace talks to take place in Moscow

Agency News

Moscow, Feb 5 : Two-day intra-Afghan talks on the country's peace settlement process, which have been organised by the Afghan diaspora in Russia, are set to take place on Tuesday at Moscow’s President Hotel.

A number of closed-door meetings is scheduled for the event's first day, while the agenda of the conference's second day is yet to be announced. The event is expected to bring together numerous prominent Afghan politicians, including former Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The conference will also be attended by a 10-person Taliban delegation, led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai.  According to a statement issued by the Taliban ahead of the meeting, the group will seek to set out its position regarding what it views as termination of Afghanistan's "occupation" by foreign troops, the restoration of peace in the country and its vision of Afghanistan's future.

The conference, as confirmed by the Russian Foreign Ministry, falls outside the talks in the so-called Moscow format, which promote Afghanistan’s peace settlement, with the ministry having no plans to hold meetings with the Taliban representatives during the two days of the conference.

Afghan Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah, in particular, said on Monday that he would prefer to see talks in a different format. He, nevertheless, added that he did not want to give pessimistic assessments regarding the meeting's possible outcome.

Fazel Fazly, the chief advisor to the Afghan president, has also expressed his doubts about the talks in Moscow, in particular, over the fact that Afghan politicians attending the conference were willing to meet with the Taliban representatives.

The Afghan High Peace Council, which has been present at the previous round of Moscow format talks and has been contributing to advancing the Afghan government's peace settlement efforts, will not take part in the conference, according to the council’s spokesman Sayed Ihsan Taheri. Members of the current Afghan government will also be absent from the talks.

The meeting's organisers hope that the event will make a contribution to the Afghan peace process by creating a space for the free exchange of opinions on the situation in the country.(UNI)