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We won Russia backing for resumption of political negotiations: Afghan Taliban

17 September, 2019

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Taliban political representatives have concluded visit to Russia that was part of their renewed effort to seek support of key players in the peace process President Donald Trump abruptly blocked earlier this month.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen says they won Russia’s backing for resumption of political negotiations to end the Afghan conflict. Shaheen was part of the three-member Taliban team who held talks with Russian officials including President Putin’s special representative Zamir Kabulov, the man who established good contacts with the Taliban political representatives.

Russia is the first country to host the Taliban political envoys few days after President Trump blocked the announcement of a landmark peace agreement that a representative US team had finalized with the Taliban after nearly one year of negotiations in Qatar.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in Moscow on Sept 4 that the Russian side has reaffirmed its readiness to act as a guarantor of fulfilling the agreement, “if it receives a request from its signatories, and to do everything possible in order to launch the peace process in Afghanistan as soon as possible. We will do everything in our power to facilitate this.”

Taliban political representatives insisted that Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and some other countries should act as guarantors of fulfilling this agreement.

Russia had been actively involved in diplomatic efforts to find out a political solution to the Afghan conflict since the withdrawal of most of foreign forces in 2014. This year Russia hosted two intra-Afghan conferences that brought senior Afghan political leaders including former President Hamid Karzai and several leaders of the Northern Alliance sit face-to-face with the Taliban leaders in Moscow to discuss the country’s future setup.

As Russia laid the foundation of intra-Afghan dialogue, Qatar followed the suit and hosted a similar conference in July that was also attended by three members of President Ghani’s administration but in their unofficial capacity.

President Trump’s abrupt cancellation of peace talks disappointed Russia which called upon both sides to resume talks as surge in fighting will be a matter of concerns for all regional countries as instability directly affect them. Pakistan also urged the Taliban and the US to return to the negotiations table as there is no military solution to the problem.

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