Pakistan to attend Afghan peace talks in Moscow


Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Muhammad Faisal confirmed that a Pakistani delegation would attend an international conference in relation to the Afghan peace process in Russia’s capital Moscow on November 9.

Afghanistan is also likely to send a High Peace Council’s, a government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants, four-member team to the meeting, Spokesperson Sayed Ihsan Taheri said.

However, Taliban Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the militant group is still mulling whether to attend the Moscow-led initiative or not.

Russia has also invited representatives from the United States as well as India, Iran, China and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

Earlier on Saturday, Moscow had announced that it would host the event on November 9 in the Russian capital — even as the United States engages the Taliban in nascent bilateral talks to end the 17-year conflict.

The Afghan foreign ministry initially had remained evasive about whether it would dispatch a delegation to the conference, which will focus on starting peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

“We are still negotiating with the Russian officials,” Spokesperson Sebaghtullah Ahmadi had said. “We welcome any peace effort that is Afghan-led,” he added.

The Moscow meeting was initially scheduled to take place in September but was postponed after Kabul insisted that the process should be Afghan-led.

The meeting comes at a sensitive time. Newly appointed US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been trying to convince the Taliban to agree to negotiate an end to the war and there are fears the Russian multi-lateral meeting could derail those efforts.

A US government think tank last week said Kabul´s control of Afghanistan had slipped in recent months as local security forces suffered record casualties while making minimal or no progress against the Taliban.