Moscow conference on Afghanistan kicks off in Moscow

Afghan government delegation member Habiba Sarabi says they came for first-ever high-level direct talks with the Taliban

 Moscow conference on Afghanistan kicks off in Moscow

The second round of the Moscow format consultations on Afghanistan are kicking off Friday in the Russian capital.

Notably, the meeting marks the first time the Taliban and Afghan government meet for direct talks at a high level. 

The conference is being held at the level of deputy foreign ministers and related special representatives.

Addressing participants at the conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the meeting is meant to seek paths to national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Before the meeting, Habiba Sarabi, a member of the Afghan High Peace Council delegation, said the Afghan government delegation came to Moscow to talk to the Taliban.

"Our expectations are to talk to the members at this meeting," she said.

She added: "We came here for a political solution. We appreciate the efforts of any country that tries to contribute to Afghan peace."Kabul sent to Moscow a five-member delegation led by Din Mohammad Azizullah, the deputy chair of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, with Habiba Sarabi as spokesperson. Afghan ambassador to Russia Qayum Kochai joined the group in Moscow.

Taliban spokesperson Mohammed Suhail Shaheen declined to specify the number in their delegation, but five Taliban representatives were present at a roundtable in the conference hall, and beforehand, up to nine people were seen. According to the official program, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, the head of the Taliban’s Political Office, is leading their delegation.

The Afghan and Taliban delegations were divided at the roundtable only by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, presiding over the meeting on behalf of the host country.

Russian Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov is helping Morgulov mediate the conference.

Diplomats from seven countries are expected to give speeches during the meeting: Pakistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Muhemmed Aejaz, Iranian Foreign Ministry top official for Western Asia Rasul Eslami, China’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Deng Xijun, Kazakhstan’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi, Kyrgyzstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Nurlan Abdrahmanov, Tajikstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Zohir Ozod Saidzoda, and Uzbekistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ismatulla Irgashev.

The official part of the meeting ends at 1 p.m. Moscow time (1600GMT), followed by a working lunch.

Last Mod: 09 Kasım 2018, 15:54
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