Afghanistan will not attend peace talks hosted by Russia, two senior government officials said on Wednesday, a decision that could make Moscow reconsider its plan to invite the Taliban to a multinational conference to discuss the future of the country.
The conference scheduled for September 4 is aimed at bringing Taliban representatives to the negotiating table in Moscow.
Russia has invited 12 countries, including the United States, to the Moscow talks but Washington has declined the invitation.
“We have decided against attending the Moscow conference,” said an official working with the foreign ministry in Kabul, adding that the government will “hold direct talks” with the Taliban, without the direct involvement of foreign powers.
‘Opportunity for peace’
Meanwhile, the top commander for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan said on Wednesday that warring parties now have an “unprecedented” opportunity for peace, and insisted President Donald Trump’s strategy for the beleaguered country is working.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity, or window of opportunity, for peace right now,” said General John Nicholson, the outgoing commander of NATOs Resolute Support mission.
He spoke to Pentagon reporters a year after Trump unveiled his strategy for Afghanistan, which includes renewed efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.