Russia says Taliban confirms it will join Moscow talks next week

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Representatives of the Taliban have confirmed they will take part in talks on Afghanistan in Moscow next week, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan said on Friday.

The official, Zamir Kabulov, said in comments published by Russian news agencies that the Taliban had confirmed their attendance at the talks next Wednesday but had yet to announce the members of their delegation.

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Moscow hosted an international conference on Afghanistan in March at which Russia, the US, China and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the then-warring Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence.

Since then, the US and its allies have withdrawn their troops after 20 years on the ground, the Taliban has seized power and the previous government has collapsed.

Russia is now worried about the potential for fallout in the wider region and the possibility of Islamist militants infiltrating the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which Moscow views as its southern defensive buffer.

Since the Taliban takeover, Moscow has held military exercises in Tajikistan and bolstered hardware at its military base there.

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