Russia hosts Taliban delegation following collapse of US talks

A Taliban delegation has held talks with Russian officials in Moscow after , the Russian foreign ministry has said.

“The Russian president’s special representative for ... Zamir Kabulov, hosted a Taliban delegation in Moscow,” said a ministry spokesman, quoted by RIA Novosti state-funded news agency.

No date for the talks was given.

“The Russian side stressed the need to relaunch negotiations between the United States and the movement,” the spokesman said.

“For their part, the Taliban confirmed their willingness to pursue dialogue with Washington.”

An official from the Taliban said on Saturday the visit came as the insurgent group looked to bolster regional support, with visits also planned for China, Iran and Central Asian states.

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“The purpose of these visits is to inform leaders of these countries about the peace talks and president Trump’s decision to call off the peace process at a time when both sides had resolved all outstanding issues and were about to sign a peace agreement,” said a senior Taliban leader in Qatar.

The Taliban leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the purpose of the visits was not to try to revive negotiations with the US but to assess regional support for forcing it to leave Afghanistan.

Until a week ago expectation had steadily mounted of a that would see the US withdraw around 5,000 troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban offering security guarantees to keep extremist groups out.

But last week Trump revealed he had cancelled an unprecedented meeting between the Taliban and himself secretly scheduled for Camp David, and declared the .

In a tweet on Saturday, Trump said: . Killing 12 people, including one great American soldier, was not a good idea. There are much better ways to set up a negotiation. The Taliban knows they made a big mistake, and they have no idea how to recover!”

With more than 13,000 US troops still in Afghanistan, Trump has been eager to end America’s longest war, launched 18 years ago after the September 11 attacks.

But fears are now growing of with presidential elections set for 28 September in Afghanistan.

The vote, the fourth since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, has already been delayed twice this year.

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Government forces and Taliban have been engaged in heavy exchanges across the nation, with the militants vowing to continue fighting and make the US regret walking away from talks.

has been trying to influence the peace negotiations and staged two meetings in Moscow with Afghan political leaders at the start of the year.

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Source : theguardian[dot]com