US special envoy to attend Afghan peace talks in Moscow news from Asia


The Taliban and the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani agreed to attend a meeting Thursday in the Russian capital.

U.S. Special Envoy for Reconciliation in Afghanistan will be in attendance a summit in Moscow later this week to advance the Afghan peace process, the US State Department said on Monday, as the May 1 deadline approaches to withdraw US troops from the country.

Zalmay Khalilzad will attend the conference on Thursday, Deputy State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters.

The meeting “will complement all other international efforts to support the peace process in Afghanistan and will also reflect the concerns of the international community regarding the progress made to date,” Porter said.

The Taliban and the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani have agreed to attend the conference in Russia, which seeks to increase its visibility in Afghan peace efforts. China and Pakistan were also invited.

The Taliban on Monday announced plans to send a high-level 10-person delegation, led by the chief negotiator Mullah Baradar Akhund, at the meeting in the Russian capital.

It is part of a series of international gatherings aimed at breaking the deadlock in talks in Qatar between the Taliban and a delegation including representatives of the Afghan government to end decades of conflict.

Turkey recently mentionned he plans to host another round of Afghan peace talks in Istanbul in April.

The Biden administration proposed earlier this month to replace the current Afghan government with an interim administration until a new constitution is agreed and elections are held.

On March 12, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States intended to play “a supporting role” in the peace negotiations.

“And that is precisely what Ambassador Khalilzad is doing, because we recognize that this process must be owned by the Afghans, must be led by the Afghans,” Price told reporters at a press briefing.

But a Taliban spokesman expressed skepticism about the US proposal, saying transitional governments have proven ineffective and the group does not believe an interim government can meet the country’s challenges.

“Just look at the past experiences of our country over the past 40 years and the wars it has witnessed”, Muhammad Naim told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

“Transitional governments were formed after the US occupation, some transitional, others participatory, but none of them solved the country’s problems,” Naim said.

The United States faces a May 1 deadline to withdraw its remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan under a February 2020 deal between the Trump administration and the Taliban.

The Biden administration has said it is reviewing the deal.





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