Russia postpones Afghanistan peace conference

Afghanistan and the US turned down invitations for the meeting but Taliban were willing to attend.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul
Afghan President Ghani wants talks with the Taliban 'to happen in presence of the Afghan government' [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

Russia has postponed a multilateral Afghanistan peace conference that was scheduled to take place in Moscow next month.

The meeting was scheduled to take place on September 4. Russia invited 12 countries to the conference. While Kabul and the US turned down the invitation, the Taliban said they were willing to attend.

On Monday, President Ghani spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “to iron out the differences and ensure talks with the Taliban happen in presence of the Afghan government”, a senior Afghanistan president official told Reuters news agency.

“The president of the IRA [Islamic Republic of Afghanistan], supporting in principle the idea of a Moscow meeting, proposed postponing it due to the need to develop Afghanistan’s consolidated position on this issue, taking into account the ongoing personnel changes in the leadership of the Afghan ruling bloc,” Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

Lavrov assured Ghani that the summit dates “will be changed to ensure Afghanistan‘s participation”, the official said.

In the official statement from Kabul, President Ghani was said to have hailed Moscow for its efforts for peace in Afghanistan.

“In the telephonic conversation, it was decided to postpone the Moscow conference so that the two countries can coordinate on further preparations and effectiveness of the process,” the statement from Kabul added.

Earlier this week, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Russia, Abdul Qayyum Kochai, said “Russia wants to use the Taliban against [ISIL]”, according to comments carried by the Russia-focused Interfax news agency.

Lavrov brushed aside the comments, saying it would be “hypocritical” for “Russia to use the Taliban movement for the fight against [ISIL]”.

This year, Moscow rejected an accusation by NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan that it had been supporting and even supplying weapons to the Taliban.

The group is fighting to remove US and other foreign forces and defeat Afghanistan’s Western-backed government.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies