Asia - Pacific

Afghan team off to Moscow for multilateral conference

Delegations from Taliban, Pakistan, US, and China to attend Russia-sponsored moot on March 18 to discuss peace process

Shadi Khan Saif and Islamuddin Sajid  | 17.03.2021 - Update : 17.03.2021
Afghan team off to Moscow for multilateral conference [FILE PHOTO] - Representatives led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (Front C) leave after a meeting chaired by Former President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, marking a century of diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and Russia on May 30, 2019 in Moscow,


An array of top Afghan politicians led by chief peace broker Abdullah Abdullah on Wednesday left Kabul for Moscow to attend a proposed multilateral conference with the Taliban in the Russian capital.

Former President Hamid Karzai and the country's highest-ranking military officer, Marshal Abdul Rasheed Dostum, were also among the delegates.

"It [the conference] also debates the ways and means to promote the development of AFG [Afghanistan] as an independent, peaceful and self-sufficient state, free from terrorism and drug-related crimes. We acknowledge the pivotal role of AFG's neighbors, and Russia in establishing lasting peace in the country," said Abdullah in a series of tweets prior to his departure.

He also thanked China, Pakistan and the US, as well as Russia, for organizing the conference. "While welcoming regional and international initiatives to support the peace process, we strongly believe that the Moscow conference will boost the Doha peace talks, and the upcoming Turkey conference on AFG," said Abdullah.

Shahzada Shahid, a member of the High Council for National Reconciliation, told Anadolu Agency that the representatives of different countries would share their views on the peace process and that the conference would mainly focus on ways to boost the intra-Afghan talks in Doha.

The US Department of State has confirmed that Washington's Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad would participate in the Moscow conference.

Taliban delegation

On Monday, the Taliban's Qatar office spokesman Mohammad Naeem announced that the group's deputy leader Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar would attend the moot.

"A high-level delegation of ten members of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, led by Mullah Baradar Akhund, deputy chief of the Political Affairs and Head of the Political Office of the IEA, will attend the meeting held in Moscow," tweeted Naeem.

Meanwhile, the Taliban on Wednesday charged the American troops in Afghanistan with violating the February 2020 peace agreement and killing "scores of Taliban" in an aerial raid in the southern Kandahar province.

"We strongly condemn such crimes and bombardments by the US invaders, as this is a clear violation of the Doha Agreement and can never be justified," said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed.

However, Col. Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for the US Forces in Afghanistan, has rejected the allegation.

He said the US forces carried out airstrikes in the last 48 hours against Taliban fighters who were aggressively attacking and maneuvering on Afghan security forces positions in Kandahar's Zharay and Spin Boldak districts.

"The Taliban claims are false," he said, adding that the US would continue to defend the Afghan security forces in accordance with the US-Taliban agreement.

Pakistani team to fly from Iran

According to Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, the country's Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq, along with other officials, have already left for Moscow to attend the conference.

Before departing for Moscow, Sadiq paid a visit to Iran on Sunday, where he met with the country's foreign minister and other officials.

"Had some very important meetings in Tehran, including a call on HE Mohammad Javad Zarif, a distinguished Foreign Minister, and diplomat," Sadiq tweeted.

During the meeting, Pakistan Ambassador to Iran Rahim Hayat Qureshi said both countries' officials agreed to cooperate on regional peace efforts.

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