MOSCOW – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday expressed hope that a conference on Afghanistan in Moscow could help pave the way for peace talks.
"The format of the talks in Moscow is aimed at establishing inclusive dialogue between Afghans in order to advance the process of national reconciliation," Lavrov said, opening the meeting of Afghan and Taliban officials.
He underlined the threat posed by the group of Islamic states in Afghanistan, saying that he had relied on foreign sponsors to try to "turn Afghanistan into a springboard for its expansion into Central Asia." ".
The conference marks Moscow's efforts to bring the Afghan authorities and the Taliban together at a table. The United States announced that it would send a diplomat from the Moscow embassy to observe the talks.
Russia's first attempt to hold the meeting in September failed after the Afghan authorities refused. This time, the Afghan government did not send its emissaries, but several members of the government-appointed Peace Council attend the event.
Taliban officials and members of the Peace Council have already met in previous forums. Despite the absence of formal discussions, they had face-to-face discussions.
The Taliban have refused direct talks with the Afghan government, which they regard as an American puppet, saying they would only negotiate the end of the 17-year war directly with Washington.
The Special Representative for Reconciliation in Afghanistan, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, visited Afghanistan and other countries in the region on Thursday to meet with Afghan government officials and others. interested parties to "advance the goal of dialogue and negotiations between Afghans including the Taliban". and lead to lasting peace. "
Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the US military campaign in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks, but Moscow has become increasingly critical of US actions as relations with Washington have deteriorated and intensified. diplomatic activities in the region.
Kathy Gannon in Islamabad and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.
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