Russia to host Taliban dialogue

Russia to host Taliban dialogue

News:

  1. Russia has quietly invited a group of senior Afghan politicians to talks with the Taliban in Moscow, bypassing President Ashraf Ghani’s government.

Important Facts:

  1. Russia in August proposed holding multilateral peace talks in Moscow and invited 12 countries and the Taliban to attend a summit the following month.
  2. It has angered officials in Kabul who say it could muddle the U.S.-backed peace process in Afghanistan.
  3. According to officials in Kabul, holding talks with Taliban at multiple forums will further complicate the peace process backed by the U.S.
  4. Background:
  • The talks has come at a time when the Afghan government is struggling to recover control of districts lost to Taliban insurgents while casualties among security forces have reached record levels.
  • Hamid Karzai, former Prez of Afghanistan, who ran the country for 13 years following the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 has become a vocal critic of US policy, and is among those planning to travel to Moscow.
  • Karzai believes that Washington is using Afghanistan as a client state to keep an eye on its foes Iran, Russia and China and Pakistan.
  • Diplomatic engagement between the Taliban and the US gained mome­ntum recently after US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan met Taliban leaders in Qatar. But many Afghan politicians expressed concern that they have been left out of the process.
  1. Significance:
  • The Moscow talks underline the increasingly active role Russia is playing in Afghanistan, decades after Soviet forces withdrew from the country, with business investment plans, diplomatic and cultural outreach, and small military support for the central government.
  • In 2014, it reopened a cultural center in Kabul. Since 2016, it has provided thousands of Kalashnikov rifles to the Afghan government.
  • Karzai noted that peace negotiations also need to involve regional powers, most notably Russia and China as well as neighbors including Iran to make the negotiation process more holistic and consensus-based.
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