The Afghan Peace Council proposes direct talks with the Taliban

On Friday, members of Afghanistan's High Council for Peace met with Taliban representatives at a conference in Moscow and again expressed President Ashraf Ghani's proposal to hold talks without preliminary conditions.

The meeting of representatives of the countries of the region, aimed at finding solutions to end the conflict in Afghanistan, takes place for the first time with the participation of the Taliban.

"We discussed the possibility of direct negotiations with Taliban representatives and asked them to choose the place and time of the negotiations," said the official representative of the Ehsan Tahiri Peace Council, whose statement quotes the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Western states are suspicious of the Moscow conference, believing that Russia is trying to intervene in the process, which, according to them, should be led by Afghanistan itself.

In February, Ghani already offered the Taliban the opportunity to negotiate without preconditions, but the Taliban, who they considered the puppet of the Afghan government, refused, saying that they were ready to do business only with the United States.

Meanwhile, the US special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is preparing to hold another round of talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar.

Expert comment

As is well known, the Taliban refused to contact the government directly in Kabul, but they got in touch with its representatives in the person of the Afghanistan Peace Council. Why, then, is the "Moscow format" necessary, if at this meeting there is no plan to build bridges between the opposing parties, or to reach concrete agreements?

Chief researcher, Institute of Europe, Orientalist Alexander Shumilin believes that the conference is necessary to identify the role of Russia in Afghanistan through participation in a political solution.

"The campaign to strengthen this role began a long time ago," he said in an interview with the Russian Voice of America service. – And in many ways it goes against US efforts, which drive their political track both on and off the field. So far the Americans have not offered their negotiation format for the agreement. But in Washington, of course, they know that Moscow is playing an independent game, and they treat it with an understandable caution. "

Thus, Washington's moderate position, he believes a political analyst, is limited only by the fact that a representative of the American embassy in Russia participated in the conference as an observer. In his opinion, the main contradiction between Moscow and Washington on Afghanistan is not directly related to the question of a peaceful solution.

"Formally, their positions are similar, both sides support the legitimate government," he added. "But behind this is Russia's desire to increase its influence in the region in order to regulate the processes that take place there in the event of an unexpected withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan. they are guarantees that no new Obama will appear and he will not say: tomorrow we will leave from there.In addition, the Kremlin would like to minimize the influence of the Americans on the countries of Central Asia through Afghanistan ".

In short, the clash between the United States and Russia has a geopolitical nature in relation to Afghanistan, and not because of discrepancies on options to resolve the situation here, Alexander Shumilin concluded.

In turn, the director of the Center for the Study of Modern Afghanistan Omar Nessar believes that the main "sensational" conference is the presence of representatives of the Taliban's political wing.

"The Taliban actually accepted for the first time to come to this kind of place, they had the opportunity to speak here," he said in a commentary to the Russian service of Voice of America. – In this sense, the conference, of course, strengthened their position. And how it will affect the situation, life will show. "

At the same time, an Afghan scholar has recognized that any negotiation process is always a step forward: "Of course, it would be naïve to expect any practical outcome that could have a major impact on the situation in Afghanistan from a single round of negotiations. a great start.At least, the format of Moscow is very different from all the others, which were not small, and most likely will be continued. "

Omar Nessar also noted that without the United States a complete peace agreement in the country is impossible.

"On the other hand, Washington can not count on a mediation role in this conflict, because it is one of its main parties." Previously, the United States accused Moscow of having contacts with the Taliban, but it was more like a confrontation in the context of geopolitical rivalry: Apparently, now in Washington they have begun to realize that they can not completely control this process (negotiated with the Taliban.) And if so, then we must proceed from the principle: if you can not control the process, it is better take it in hand or take part, "concluded the political scientist.

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