US to not participate in talks on Afghanistan hosted by Russia

Washington [US]: The United States has said it will not be participating in talks on Afghanistan hosted by Russia later this week.

“We will not participate in the Moscow talks,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in a press briefing. “The Troika-plus has been an effective, constructive forum.
“We look forward to engaging in that forum going forward, but we’re not in a position to take part this week,” Xinhua quoted Ned Price as saying.

Price said that the United States is unable to join the talks due to logistic difficulties, adding the U.S. side supports the process.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken later in the day announced that U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is leaving his post and will be replaced by his deputy Thomas West.

According to the Russian news agency, a delegation of the Taliban will take part in the Moscow-format meeting on Afghanistan. The meeting is being hosted by Russia on October 20.

The delegation will be headed by Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy prime minister of the interim Afghan government, Afghan Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, wrote on Twitter.

According to his statement, the Taliban plan to hold negotiations with representatives of different countries on issues of mutual interest during their visit to Moscow.

The Moscow format was introduced in 2017 on the basis of the six-party mechanism for consultations between special representatives from Russia, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, and India, the Russian news agency reported.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that Moscow was expecting the arrival of a large Taliban delegation for consultations on Afghanistan next week. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that preparations for contacts on Afghanistan were underway, TASS reported.

India’s participation is likely at the level of joint secretary. Meanwhile, India has also confirmed its participation in the talks. The Ministry of External Affairs yesterday said India has received an invitation to the Moscow Format Meeting on Afghanistan on October 20 and will be participating in it. (ANI)

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