The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Sunday said that discussions are still ongoing between Afghanistan and Russia about the nature and details of a possible peace meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow.
“We are in consultations about the modality, nature and timing of Moscow meeting, these items are still under discussion, but what could happen is that a High Peace Council delegation could attend the Moscow peace meeting; but the government until now has not finalized its decision about the Moscow peace meeting,” said MoFA deputy spokesman Sibghat Ahmadi.
However, the Afghan government has not clarified its position on the possible meeting. But sources have said that it is unlikely that the Afghan government will attend the meeting.
Kabul has been pushing for both Afghanistan and Russia to co-host such a meeting. But the Russians have reportedly not responded positively to this suggestion in the wake of the Taliban’s opposition to such a move.
Meanwhile, officials from the Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC) have said that a delegation from the peace facilitating body will attend the Moscow conference on behalf of the Afghan government.
“A delegation from the High Peace Council will participate in the Moscow peace conference on behalf of Afghanistan,” said HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri.
“Ten countries have been invited to the Moscow peace meeting, key and influential politicians from Afghanistan are also invited to the meeting, but until now we do not have the official position of the Afghan government – on whether it will participate in this meeting or not, the ministry of foreign affairs said we are engaging in consultations with the Russians about the prospects and nature of the meeting, there is also a possibility that a delegation from the peace council will attend the meeting, but the important issue is that someone in a strong position from Afghanistan should participate in the meeting,” said one senator Mohammad Hassan Hotak.
There are reports however that Russia has also invited some of Afghanistan’s mainstream politicians to the summit.
According to Reuters, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and CEO of Jamiat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan, Attar Mohammad Noor, have already accepted the invitation by the Russian government to attend the meeting.
A number of political figures invited to the Moscow peace meeting on Afghanistan last week said that differences between Washington and Moscow are apparently delaying the planned meeting.
Politicians said that further delays were not in the interests of Afghanistan.
“We should not be shaky when it comes to peace, wherever a voice is heard about peace in Afghanistan, we should take part in it,” said former governor of Herat Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi.
According to sources, the key challenges around such talks are questions on the role and status the Taliban will play at such a meeting, the participation of countries, the role of Pakistan and on whether Afghanistan will take the lead in such talks.
Originally the meeting was scheduled for September 4 in Moscow, but Afghanistan refused to attend citing that any such discussions should be Afghan-led.
In August, the Afghan government announced that Afghanistan and Russia will co-chair proposed future talks in Moscow on Afghanistan’s peace.
These talks are still to be held.