By Shadi Khan Saif
The United States on Thursday dismissed Russian prospects to provide a platform for direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a statement that Russia was strongly in favor of direct negotiations between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban in order to end the fratricidal civil war, and was ready to provide an appropriate platform.
“Experience in international stabilization efforts in Afghanistan proves the inefficiency of the power solution [...] we need serious steps to begin the peace process on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions.”
In an indirect reference to Moscow’s proposal, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass said Thursday such choices about the Afghans' future were theirs to make, and not to be imposed by a foreign government or terrorists.
“Whether we’re talking about peace and reconciliation, whether we’re talking about economic development, whether we’re talking about improvements in governance and in the quality of the service and support that the government provides to the Afghan citizens, those are all things that should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led," the ambassador said in a news conference at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
A day earlier, Mohammad Ismaeel Qasimyar, the chief adviser to the country's High Peace Council (HPC), the main government body tasked with reaching a peace deal with the Taliban, told Anadolu Agency the government in principle welcomed any cooperation that strengthened and facilitated the peace process.
"However, we have to learn from the prospects and possibilities of realization of it," Qasimyar said, adding that Afghanistan wished all regional and international players to seek their interests in peace and stability in Afghanistan rather than in an "imposed war".
Local officials in various provinces in Afghanistan have on multiple occasions claimed the Taliban were receiving support from Russia, as well as from Pakistan and Iran, a claim rejected by all three.