‘Moscow summit first step towards peace in Afghanistan’

Kabul: The meeting in Moscow last week, which saw the participation of a Taliban delegation and officials from nearly a dozen countries, was the first and positive step towards ensuring a long-lasting peace in Afghanistan, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said.

Karzai told Kazakhstan State TV on Friday that no representative from the Afghan government had participated in direct negotiations between the Taliban and US officials in Qatar. He also expressed hope that such meetings would break the ice in ending the decades-long war in the country, TOLOnews reported.

“In the peace talks in Moscow, which was the first time such a talk was taking place in a major regional capital of the world with the neighbours of Afghanistan all present there including from Kazakhstan and where delegations of the Taliban and delegations of the Afghan Peace Council sat together, the Afghan ambassador was there in that meeting, so, we see it as a positive step, a first step, that will definitely give us results and we hope it will continue to keep convening and keep looking for a solution eventually that suits all of us,” Karzai elaborated in the interview.

Karzai’s comments came as Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador, who is on a four-nation visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar from November 8 to 20, held the second round of talks pertaining to the Afghan peace process.

Khalizad is slated to visit Afghanistan later on Saturday after concluding the deliberations with Afghan, Emirati and Saudi officials in Abu Dhabi. The US envoy also met with Taliban representatives in Doha earlier this week.

During the meeting that was held in Moscow on November 9, the Taliban said that the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is the only way for maintaining peace and security in the region. Quoting sources, Tolo News reported that the statement was passed by the Taliban representatives who attended the meeting.

A delegation of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) members, which also attended the summit, in addition, said that the Afghan government would not need the help of any foreign power after peace is established.

The meeting was inaugurated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who looked forward to establishing direct talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

He said that the meeting was aimed at removing the Islamic State (IS) terrorists entirely from Afghanistan that has almost become a permanent base point from where terrorist attacks are being carried out in Central Asia and further.

The Afghan foreign ministry said that the Ashraf Ghani administration would welcome efforts by any country that could help in establishing peace and stability in the war-torn country.