Russia To Host Talks On Afghan Peace Process

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Russia says the Afghan government and the Taliban have agreed to take part in international talks in Moscow next week on the Afghan peace process.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on November 3 that delegations from Afghanistan’s High Peace Council and from the Taliban’s Qatar-based political office will attend the talks scheduled for November 9.

"It will be the first time that a delegation from the Taliban's political office in Doha will attend such a high-level international meeting," the Foreign Ministry said.

The statement also said the United States, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia have been invited to the gathering, which is at the deputy foreign minister level.

The statement, however, did not clarify which countries had accepted the invitation.

Russia in August proposed hosting multilateral peace talks and invited 12 countries and the Taliban to attend a summit the following month.

But the talks were postponed after the Afghan government refused to send a delegation, saying the Taliban should first agree to direct talks with Kabul.

In April 2017, Russia hosted an international conference on Afghanistan. The United States was invited to that meeting but did not participate.

Meanwhile, the United States has renewed efforts to engage the Taliban in peace talks with the Western-backed government in Kabul in a bid to achieve a political solution to the Afghan conflict.

Taliban representatives have met with U.S. officials at least twice in Qatar in recent months, most recently on October 12 with U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

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