US State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino on Wednesday night confirmed the US embassy in Moscow would send a representative to Friday’s meeting in the Russian capital on Afghanistan.
He said this decision had been taken in close coordination with the Afghan government.
“The United States believes that all countries should support direct dialogue between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to reach an end to the war and we have been clear that no government, including Russia, can be a substitute for the Afghan government in direct negotiations with the Taliban.
“In coordination with the Afghan government, the United States embassy in Moscow will send a representative to the working level to observe the discussions and the United States stands ready to work with all interested parties to support and facilitate a peace process,” Palladino said.
The long-awaited meeting, organized by Moscow, is expected to take place in the Russian capital on Friday, and will reportedly look at ways to find peace in Afghanistan.
This week the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said the Afghan government would not be sending a delegation to the summit but a High Peace Council (HPC) official said they would attend the meeting in an independent capacity.
“This time, only a group has been invited, therefore we are not going to participate in it, but our agreement with the Russians is that this meeting should lead to direct talks between us (Afghan government) and the Taliban, if it does not happen like this, then this will reflect the intention of the Taliban and this means they (Taliban) are not prepared for peace,” said MoFA spokesman Sibghat Ahmadi.
HPC officials said they would send a delegation, led by Hajji Deen Mohammad, the deputy head of the peace council but that no talks would be held with the Taliban.
“A delegation from the HPC, under the leadership of the deputy head of the council Hajji Deen Mohammad will attend the Moscow peace meeting on Afghanistan, the main agenda of the meeting will be the start of direct peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the armed Afghan Taliban. 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.
There are reports 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 accepted the invitation.
On Tuesday, the Taliban also confirmed it would send a delegation to the meeting.
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 would co-chair proposed future talks in Moscow on Afghanistan’s peace.
Delegations from twelve countries have reportedly been invited including the delegation from Taliban’s political office in Qatar.
In a statement issued this week by the Taliban, the group said: “Taliban political envoys will attend the meeting but the participation does not mean they will hold talks with anyone. This is a meeting to debate the current situation in Afghanistan.”
“The meeting will discuss the end of American invasion, identify problems and deliberate on regional peace,” their statement read.
Russian media meanwhile said the Russian Foreign Ministry had sent invitations to Afghanistan, India, Iran, China, Pakistan, the US and other countries.