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Taliban at Afghanistan talks table today, Delhi sending ‘non

09 November 2018

The Moscow-format meeting on Afghanistan will be held on November 9 and representatives of the Afghan Taliban radical movement will take part in it, the Russian Foreign Ministry had said last week.

The U.S. State Department said Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, headed Thursday to Afghanistan and other countries in the region to meet with Afghan government officials and other interested parties to "advance the goal of an intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations that include the Taliban and lead to a sustainable peace".

Moscow on Friday hosted worldwide talks on Afghanistan aimed at kickstarting direct negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban militant group, both of whom sent delegations, AFP reported.

The Afghan foreign ministry has emphasised that the council does not represent the Afghan government at the meeting, however.

According to the Russian foreign ministry, invitations to take part in the event had been sent to Afghanistan, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, the United States and some other countries.

This is the first time that a Taliban delegation is taking part in such high-level worldwide meeting, says Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman.

The long-awaited meeting, organized by Moscow, is expected to take place in the Russian capital on Friday, and will reportedly look at ways to find peace in Afghanistan.

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Russia, which backs Taliban demands for a pullout of American forces, invited regional powers including Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the talks as well as the U.S. Ghani opposed the September meeting in a call to Lavrov, demanding that any peace moves be Afghan-led.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP that the group was sending five representatives.

"This conference is not about holding negotiations with any party whatsoever; rather it is about finding a peaceful solution to the issue of Afghanistan". After the Afghan government cancelled its participation, India too followed suit on the pretext that it would be untenable for New Delhi's representatives to share the table with a Taliban delegation - when Afghanistan's democratically-elected government would be staying away.

"With participation in the meeting, the global status of the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] will be strengthened even further Such diplomatic efforts of the Islamic Emirate showcase the active, clear and independent diplomacy and policy of the Islamic Emirate in the political field", asserted the insurgent spokesman.

Russian Federation is challenging the U.S.by hosting the Taliban at a Moscow peace conference in the latest source of friction between the two former Cold War foes. "The latest talks occurred last month where newly appointed special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalamay Khalilzad, led the USA team".

"He was released to provide impetus to the peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan", said Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal.

Taliban at Afghanistan talks table today, Delhi sending ‘non