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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/17/21

Moscow to host peace conference on Afghanistan

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Moscow is set to host a conference on Afghanistan on Thursday, March 18, and has invited several regional players, including Taliban representatives. Moscow has said its conference next week is meant to support peace talks held in Doha, which have struggled to yield any breakthroughs.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the talks will bring together representatives of Russia, the U.S., China and Pakistan, as well as an Afghan government delegation and representatives of the Taliban. Qatar, which has hosted Afghan peace talks, has been invited to the Moscow meeting as an honored guest.

Zalmay Khalilzad, US special envoy for Afghanistan, will attend the conference on Thursday, US State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters. China and Pakistan also were invited.

Zakharova said the negotiations will focus on "ways to help advance inter-Afghan talks in Doha, reduce the level of violence and end the armed conflict in Afghanistan and help it develop as an independent, peaceful and self-sufficient state that would be free from terrorism and drug trafficking."

Under a February 2020 deal that the Trump administration signed with the Taliban, Washington committed to a May 1 withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan which, after 20 years, has become America's longest conflict, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a recent letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that the May 1 deadline for the U.S. troop pullout is still on the table. The letter proposed a revised plan for a 90-day reduction in violence that would prevent the start of a spring offensive by the Taliban and would be followed by a permanent cease-fire laid out in a draft peace agreement.

The draft that the U.S. has presented to Afghanistan's warring sides for review outlines the terms of a cease-fire and its enforcement, calls for the protection of the rights of women, children and minorities and envisions a truth and reconciliation commission.

The Interfax news agency quoted Zamir Kabulov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy for Afghanistan, as saying that the meeting in Moscow "aims to give an impulse, an impetus so that substantive talks and not just contacts would begin in Doha."

"We will discuss prospects for a settlement in Afghanistan and reaching solutions," Kabulov said, adding that it would be up to representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban to decide if they want to have a separate meeting directly.

Since the U.S.-Taliban agreement was signed, the Taliban have kept their commitment not to attack NATO and U.S. troops but are relentlessly targeting Afghan forces, which have also been conducting operations against the insurgents, the AP said adding: The Taliban today are the strongest they have been since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled their regime for sheltering the mastermind of 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Moscow's diplomacy push comes ahead of the 32nd anniversary of the Soviet Union's pullout from Afghanistan where it fought the mujahedeen, or holy warriors, who were backed by Washington and Pakistan, the AP said. The co-founder of the Taliban and lead negotiator in the 2020 U.S.-Taliban deal, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, fought in the 1980s war against Soviet troops.

Moscow's diplomacy push comes ahead of the 32nd anniversary of the Soviet Union's pullout from Afghanistan where it fought the mujahedeen, or holy warriors, who were backed by Washington and Pakistan. The co-founder of the Taliban and lead negotiator in the 2020 U.S.-Taliban deal, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, fought in the 1980s war against Soviet troops.

Moscow's diplomacy push comes ahead of the 32nd anniversary of the Soviet Union's pullout from Afghanistan where it fought the mujahedeen, or holy warriors, who were backed by Washington and Pakistan. The co-founder of the Taliban and lead negotiator in the 2020 U.S.-Taliban deal, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, fought in the 1980s war against Soviet troops.

The Moscow meeting is one of a series of international gatherings called to try to break an impasse in talks on a political settlement to decades of war.

Taliban representatives and a delegation of Afghan leaders that includes government officials have been holding talks in Qatar's capital, Doha, since September last year.

Following a proposal from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Turkey also plans to host an Afghan peace conference in Istanbul in April, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said last week.

"Qatar will continue to assist the Afghan people by hosting these negotiations, and we hope the efforts of multiple international parties will help bring an end to the decades-long conflict," said the statement issued by Doha on Tuesday.

 

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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