Afghanistan will not attend peace talks with Taliban in Moscow | News | DW | 22.08.2018

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Afghanistan will not attend peace talks with Taliban in Moscow

Kabul will not be sending a delegation to Russia-led peace talks with the Taliban in September, the Foreign Ministry told DW. The Afghan government said only it can initiate a peace process.

The Afghan government does not plan on sending a delegation to the planned peace conference with the Taliban in Moscow on September 4, a Foreign Ministry spokesman told DW on Wednesday.

"A peace process can only be initiated and brought forward by the Afghan government," ministry spokesman Sebghatullah Ahmadi told DW's Dari and Pashto service in a telephone interview. "The government will not participate in any further meetings that are not led by the Afghan government."

Ahmadi emphasized that the Afghan government maintained good relations with Russia and would continue to do so in the future. However, Kabul could only support peace talks "if Afghanistan's interests are at the forefront," he said.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that Moscow expects the Taliban to take part in the planned September 4 talks. The Russian government has invited 12 countries to take part in the Afghan peace conference.

The United States has already said it would not attend the conference, which will discuss the future of Afghanistan.

Russia threatened by spreading terrorism

Afghan politics expert Wadir Safi at the University of Kabul said he believes the Russia-led talks are aimed at preventing terrorism in Afghanistan.

"As far as the peace process is concerned, Russia does not want to be left out," Safi told DW. "They want to protect themselves by contacting the warring factions."

According to Safi, Moscow has maintained contact with the Taliban, a radical Islamist group, for years, in order to curb terrorism, particularly from the militant "Islamic State" (IS) group which has been spreading through several areas in Afghanistan.

Russia is concerned about the expansion of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, particularly due to the 1,300-kilometer (roughly 800-mile) border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan — a part of the former Soviet Union.

The Taliban has yet to officially announce if it will be sending a delegation to the peace talks in Moscow.

DW's Shakila Ebrahimkhil and Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi contributed to this report.

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