Moscow Summit: HPC urges peace talks revival, Taliban share demands

At a media briefing in Washington on Wednesday, US State Department Deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino said that his country "believes that all countries should support direct dialogue between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to reach an end to the war".

Talking to Taliban and justifying the talks by calling them unofficial and at the same time calling pro- resistance groups in Kashmir as proxies of Pakistan is enough to find contradictions in New Delhi's policies.

"Ambassador Wells met Minister of Finance Asad Umer, senior officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior, and Director General Military Operations Nauman Zakria". As per the outline of the New Development Plan finalised in September 2017, India would take up hundreds of development projects to the tune of $1 billion to help rebuild the country. But that meeting was not attended by Taliban representatives.

The Afghan government's rejection to participate in the meet on September 4 has been speculated to be a result of USA pressure.

The insurgent group fighting with Afghan forces and their USA backers contests or controls half of Afghanistan, more than at any time since the Taliban was toppled in 2001 in an American-led invasion to destroy terrorist training camps run by Osama Bin Laden. "This is a meeting to debate the current situation in Afghanistan".

On Thursday, the United States said it would send representatives from its embassy in Moscow to the talks; Pakistan is also expected to send a representative.

"India supports all efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan that will preserve unity and plurality, and bring security, stability and prosperity to the country", Kumar said.

While a five-member Taliban delegation led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, head of the Taliban's political council in Qatar, will attend the meeting, the U.S. has also confirmed its participation.

Haji Din Mohammad Azizullah, head of the Kabul delegation, confirmed that he had "brief talks" with the Taliban members at a working lunch, characterising the talks as "friendly", according to Anadolu Agency. The US had declined to attend the discussions. This format has given Moscow a leadership position in the Afghanistan situation, at a time when the U.S. is ceding the space. "This will be assessed at the conference, we hope to convey good news to the people of Afghanistan about direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the near future", said HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri.

Ghani offered in February to talk to the Taliban without pre-conditions but the insurgents, who regard his government as a foreign-controlled regime, have refused, saying they will deal only with the United States.

The Afghan delegation was headed by Deputy Minister for Afghan Ministry of Refugee Affairs Dr Alema Aslam, while Secretary SAFRON led the Pakistan side in the meeting, which discussed matters related to Afghan refugees and other Afghan nationals illegally residing in Pakistan. But this time, it has managed to carefully balance Russian and USA interests, as it is sending the Afghan High Peace Council's representatives, instead of its foreign ministry representatives.

Vanessa Coleman