Afghanistan: Taliban says it’s not ready for talks with Kabul government

afghan-map1-4ff

KABUL (TCA) — The Taliban are not ready to negotiate with the Afghan government, a Taliban member said at talks in Moscow on November 9, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan reported.

A Taliban delegation attended a diplomatic conference in Russia for the first time, but the Kabul government sent no official representative, and the sides reported no progress.

At the end of the talks in the Russian capital, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who led the Taliban delegation, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the militants are not ready for direct talks with Kabul and will negotiate with the United States instead.

Taliban representatives said the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is the only way for maintaining security.

“At the first phase, we are talking with Americans about the withdrawal of their forces from Afghanistan. When we reach a solution about their pullout of forces, then we enter a second phase among the Afghans how to bring about peace in Afghanistan,” Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai was quoted by TOLOnews as saying.

Opening the meeting earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia hopes “through joint efforts to open a new page in the history of Afghanistan.”

The first Russian initiative to hold the conference in September was abandoned after the Afghan authorities refused to attend.

This time, the Afghan government sent only members of the government-appointed High Peace Council to attend the event.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry on November 9 issued a statement stressing that the High Peace Council is taking part in the talks “in its own capacity as a national but nongovernment institution, with a view to discuss the dynamics and details of initiating direct negotiations.”

The High Peace Council (HPC) is a body of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program, established by former President Hamid Karzai to negotiate with elements of the Taliban.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the militant group was sending five representatives, who will not hold “any sort of negotiations” with the Peace Council delegation.

Informal contacts between the Taliban and members of Afghanistan’s Peace Council have taken place at various forums in the past.

Speaking at the Moscow meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov also said that Daesh (Islamic State) with support from foreign countries wants to find a footprint in Afghanistan and from there expand its activities to Central Asia and further. Lavrov said the countries attending the Moscow meeting want to help Afghanistan eradicate such a threat.

Sergey Kwan

TCA