Still no request from Taliban to attend Tashkent conference on Afghanistan — Uzbek foreign ministry

TASHKENT (TCA) — Regarding possible participation of the Taliban in the forthcoming Tashkent international conference on Afghanistan, “a request for participation in the conference has been received neither through the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan nor directly” from the Taliban group, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan said, as reported by the Jahon information agency.

Global and regional powers and Afghanistan’s neighbors will attend the International Conference “Peace Process, Security Cooperation and Regional Connectivity” that will take place on March 26 and 27 in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent.

The conference follows the second meeting of the Kabul Process that took place on February 28 in Afghanistan’s capital. It will be a logical extension of the efforts undertaken by the international community to secure peace and stability in Afghanistan.

President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani are to deliver keynote speeches at the opening ceremony of the conference.

It is expected that the forum participants will convey their consolidated stance – at the regional and global levels – on the need for the soonest start of direct talks between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement without any preconditions.

The Foreign Ministry of Uzbekistan has informed that invitations to the high-level conference initiated by Uzbekistan and Afghanistan have been sent to the UN Secretary General and the Special Representative for Afghanistan, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as Ministers of Foreign Affairs of China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The invitation was also sent to Qatar.

The ministry said that as of March 12, foreign ministers of Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan preliminarily confirmed participation in the forum through diplomatic channels. The US will be represented by the Deputy Secretary of State.