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  • Members of a Taliban delegation, led by chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (front), leave after peace talks with Afghan senior politicians in Moscow, Russia May 30, 2019

    Members of a Taliban delegation, led by chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (front), leave after peace talks with Afghan senior politicians in Moscow, Russia May 30, 2019 | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 September 2019
Opinion

Russia urged both sides to resume talks emphasizing that foreign troops must withdraw for a viable peace in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s Taliban have sent a delegation to Russia to seek international support to push for the withdrawal of United States troops following the collapse of talks with the U.S. this month, officials from the insurgent group said Saturday.

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US Will Lose More After Afghan Peace Talks End Abruptly: Taliban

“The purpose of these visits is to inform leaders of these countries about the peace talks and President Trump’s decision to call off the peace process at a time when both sides had resolved all outstanding issues and were about to sign a peace agreement,” said a senior Taliban leader in Qatar.

Russia, which has already hosted two meetings between the Taliban and Afghan political and civil society representatives, said this week it hoped that the process could be put back on track and urged both sides to resume talks emphasizing that foreign troops must withdraw for a viable peace deal.

“We are convinced that the complete end to foreign military presence is an inalienable condition of durable peace in Afghanistan,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.

As the year-long peace process crumbles, in Washington Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated last week that U.S. negotiations are on hold and that the U.S. would not reduce military support for Afghan troops or presence currently estimated at 14,000 U.S. troops and about 8,000 NATO forces.

The Afghan government echoed this on Saturday informing that consultations for peace in Afghanistan will be paused until after the Sept. 28 elections, in which current President Ashraf Ghani seeks re-election to a second five-year term while facing strong rejection from the Taliban, who have warned civilians to not campaign or head to the polls, dismissing them as a sham.

This comes as U.S President Donald Trump on Sept. 7 decided to unilaterally cancel talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders after the group claimed the attack in Kabul that killed a U.S. soldier and 11 civilians, despite already having already reached a draft peace deal between the Taliban and the U.S.

The insurgents denounced that an agreement had been “finalized” and that discussions had ended in “a good atmosphere,” but the deal had been sabotaged by Trump.

In an interview with Russia's RT on Friday, senior Taliban negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai expressed hope that Trump would rethink his position and come back to the negotiating table but also warned that if no agreement is reached the Taliban are ready to fight "for 100 years."

Without an end in sight, the war in Afghanistan will continue to be Washington’s longest conflict in its history. It was started after the September 11 attacks in New York City when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan as part of the so-called "war on terror" to dismantle Al-Qaeda by removing the Taliban from power. 

Almost US$975 billion has been spent and approximately 220,000 people have died.

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