Moscow, on Friday, hosts talks between the Taliban and members of a non-government envoy from Afghanistan in a bid to generate a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict in the country. The discussions will include 12 nations, who will participate to usher Russia’s intention to help guide the end of the dispute.
For the Taliban, the forum represents an opportunity to put its demands for peace on the table, according to a report by the Washington Post. The group's focus is on the exit of foreign military forces from Afghan territory, particular the United States.
“This conference is not about negotiating with any particular side, rather it is a conference about holding comprehensive discussions on finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary and ending the American occupation,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a high-ranking delegation member of the Qatar-based Taliban office, stated in relation to the meeting.
The talks will be presided over by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov. The meeting is reportedly one of many such private meetings that have been held in which the Taliban has discussed peace prospects. However, in September, the Afghan Government denied taking part in any such meetings, organized by Moscow, on grounds that it did not approve of another government organizing such efforts.
The Afghan Government decided to send members of the High Peace Council (HPC), which is a government-designated entity, but not actually part of the country's government. The HPC, which is composed of politicians, religious leaders and elders, is the body designated to observe the peace efforts between the government and armed opposition groups.
“The efforts of Ambassador Khalilzad are supportive. The distinction is that the U.S. always talked, but not negotiated. That principle has been reiterated and affirmed (...) The model of cooperation regionally is what happened in Uzbekistan, where the conference is jointly co-chaired and we move forward on that basis,” Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, stated indirectly about the Russian-led efforts.
Ghani spoke to an Uzbekistan-Afghanistan conference in which parties such as the United States, Russia and Iran participated in at the behest of the two governments.
In March, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution to extend the organization’s mandate in assisting Afghanistan.
“Unanimously adopting resolution 2405 (2018), the council extended through 17 March 2019 the Mission’s mandate in support of Afghanistan’s full assumption of leadership and ownership of its security, governance and development,” along with this, the UNSC stated, “the council called on regional and international partners to support the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation initiated in June 2017.”