Russia media outlets report that Moscow plans to host international talks on the conflict in Afghanistan on April 14.
Citing the Afghan National Security Adviser, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Russian news agencies have reported that Kabul was prepared to engage in direct negotiations with the Taliban group.
The Taliban “should sit down at the negotiating table with the Afghan government, rather than participating in the conference,” Interfax quoted Atmar as saying.
Speaking in Moscow following the talks, Atmar said on March 17 that during the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, he received a confirmation that Moscow is committed to facilitation of peace in the region.
“In this context, the contacts with the Taliban were only aimed at national reconciliation in Afghanistan. I was very happy to hear that. Both of them assured me that Russia is Afghanistan’s close friend and will further support efforts of Afghanistan’s legitimate government,” Atmar told Russia’s Sputnik news agency.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban have signaled willingness to take part in a meeting that Russia is expected to host next month on peace and reconciliation in war-ravaged Afghanistan, according to The Express Tribune (Pakistan).
Russia has reportedly extended an invitation to 12 countries for consultations in Moscow on April 14.
The process of informal consultations was initially started by Pakistan, China and Russia in December and was expanded to six-nation talks in mid-February. Moscow last organized talks on the situation in Afghanistan -- without the involvement of the West -- with representatives from Afghanistan, China, India, Pakistan, and Iran taking part.
The Express Tribune says the United States, some Central Asian states and the European Union U will also be invited to next month’s meeting.