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September 18, 2018
The Kabul Times

Moscow peace conference on Afghanistan postponed

Moscow peace conference on Afghanistan that had been scheduled to take place on September 4 was postponed.
On Monday, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and it was decided to postpone the Moscow conference so that the two countries can coordinate on further preparations and effectiveness of the process,” a statement from Afghanistan presidential palace said.
“The main and essential principle is to hold peace talks under the ownership of Afghans,” Ghani told Lavrov. In response, Lavrov said Russia wants “Afghan-owned peace talks and is ready for any effective cooperation in that regard with the government of Afghanistan,” according to the statement.
Lavrov assured President Ghani that the summit dates “will be changed to ensure Afghanistan’s participation.”
In the statement from Afghanistan presidential palace, President Ghani was said to have hailed Moscow for its efforts for peace in Afghanistan.
Both sides said they’d decided to work together to jointly set a date and host the meeting. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had accepted Kabul’s request for more time to forge a “consolidated position by the Afghan side.”
Russia had invited 12 countries to the conference. While Kabul and the US turned down the invitation, the Taliban said they were willing to attend.
In council of ministers’ meeting held Monday, chief executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah said that peace process should be administered and led by Afghans and Afghanistan government.
“We’re praising a number of countries for working to facilitate peace talks with the Taliban group, but in the meantime we do not let ownership of Afghan peace process to be questioned as it is the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process; therefore, Afghanistan should be the owner of this process as it is the Afghanistan that can perceive the need for maintaining peace in the country,” Dr. Abdullah added.
A number of countries including Turkey, US, Saudi Arabia and Russia have talked with the Taliban group for couple of years. Moscow is concerned over increasing of threats posed by Daesh in Afghanistan and Central Asian countries in particular Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan having close relations with Russia. The concerns further raised after four tourists including two US citizens were killed by Daesh in Tajikistan.
The 6 + 1 countries as China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and plus Afghanistan should find a settlement to end war and bloodshed in Afghanistan and work with Afghanistan government for peace talks with the Taliban group.
If the respective countries in particular Russia considers stability in Afghanistan as key for reaching stability in Central Asia, this needs a comprehensive strategy to support Afghanistan government.
It will be the first time Taliban participates in a regional meeting. The group had been invited in previous peace meeting in Russia, but the group declined to participate. Moscow peace conference on Afghanistan has been planned amid increasing of violence in Afghanistan.
Lailuma Noori

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