Uzbekistan reiterates readiness to host intra-Afghan peace talks with Taliban

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TASHKENT (TCA) — On February 5, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov received UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and the Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Tadamichi Yamamoto who arrived in Uzbekistan on a working visit, Uzbekistan’s official information agency Jahon reported.

Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry quoted Foreign Minister Kamilov as saying that Uzbekistan is prepared to provide all the necessary conditions for direct talks between the government of Afghanistan and Taliban negotiators to be organized “at any stage” of an Afghan peace process.

In the meantime, Taliban representatives and an Afghan delegation led by former President Hamid Karzai are holding two-day talks in Moscow billed as part of an “intra-Afghan” peace process — despite the absence of Kabul government representatives, RFE/RL reported.

The gathering has been criticized by the office of current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

It comes as broader peace talks aimed at ending the country’s 17-year war appear to be gaining momentum, despite the Taliban’s continued refusal to meet directly with Afghan government representatives.

The Russian government has denied organizing the meeting, which is being hosted by a Moscow-based organization of Afghan diaspora leaders.

However, it’s highly unlikely such a high-profile event would be allowed to take place in Moscow without the Kremlin’s blessing, RFE/RL reported.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said as the talks got under way on February 5 that there were no contacts planned by the Kremlin to meet with any of the Taliban delegates.

The Moscow meeting is “nothing more than a fantasy. No one can decide without the consent of the Afghan people,” Ghani told Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews.

“Those who have gathered in Moscow have no executive authority. They can say what they want,” the Afghan president added.

Sergey Kwan

TCA