Multi-cultural Conference Brings New Hope For Peace In Afghanistan
By Sofy Robertson
The United States and the Taliban are both due to attend a multi-cultural conference in Moscow today to discuss how to achieve peace and national reconciliation in Afghanistan.
This will mark the first time that the US and the Taliban have attended such an event to make progress towards peace.
Delegates from twelve countries, including the US, will participate in the consultation. Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, emphasised that the conference is solely aimed at facilitating “a conducive atmosphere for bilateral or multilateral dialogue formats” in order to promote a negotiated solution to the Afghan problem as soon as possible. (VOA News)
This conference marks the second that Russia has held. The first meeting held in Moscow last year was missing two important parties after both Washington and the Taliban turned down their invitations.
Although Afghanistan refused to send its officials to this year’s meeting, it has allowed a delegation of the country’s High Peace Council to attend.
“The Russian side reaffirms its position that there is no alternative to a political settlement in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, as well as Afghanistan’s regional partners, need to actively work and coordinate their efforts in this direction.”
A five-member delegation of the Qatar-based political office of the Taliban will take part in the meeting today, marking the first appearance by the Taliban at such an international conference.
Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid emphasised the purpose of the conference, saying:
“This conference is not about holding negotiations with any party whatsoever; rather it is about finding a peaceful solution to the issue of Afghanistan. There will not be any sort of negotiations taking place with the delegation of Kabul administration.”
Washington has already initiated a direct contact dialogue process with the Taliban. US officials have held two meetings with the Qatar-based Taliban negotiators since July.
It was confirmed on Thursday that the US-led peace initiative prompted Islamabad to release a senior jailed Taliban leader last month.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the insurgent commander in question, was captured in 2010 in a joint operation by Pakistani and American security operatives in Karachi. He was second-in-command of the Taliban at the time of his arrest.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mohammad Faisal spoke about Baradar’s release, saying:
“His release was facilitated by Pakistan at the U.S. request in order to move forward on the shared objective of pursuing a political settlement in Afghanistan. […] He was released to provide impetus to the peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.”
After years of unrest, occupation and war, peace could at last be within reach for the citizens of Afghanistan.