Taliban to attend peace talks

AFP-Jiji KABUL (AFP-Jiji) — The Taliban will send representatives to multilateral talks in Russia on war-torn Afghanistan this month, the militant group said Tuesday, as the international community ratchets up efforts to end the 17-year conflict.

Moscow announced Saturday it would host the meeting on Nov. 9 to discuss ways to kick-start peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

In a statement posted on social media, the Taliban said it would dispatch “high-ranking” representatives from its political office in Qatar.

“This conference is not about negotiating with any particular side, rather it is a conference about holding comprehensive discussions on finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary and ending the American occupation,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.

The Taliban last month appointed five former Guantanamo Bay detainees, who had been swapped for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl in 2014, to its political office. They have the authorization to “talk about peace,” a senior Taliban official told AFP.

The confirmation comes a day after Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants, said it would send a delegation.

Moscow has also invited representatives from the United States as well as India, Iran, China, Pakistan and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

Pakistan, which has long been accused of providing support to the Afghan Taliban, would “definitely” attend, foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal told AFP.Speech

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