Afghanistan will not attend multinational peace talks hosted by Russia early next month, the Afghan foreign ministry has said, a decision that could make Moscow reconsider its plan to invite the Taliban.
“The peace process definitely needs to be carried out under the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. We will not participate in the Moscow talks,” said Sibghat Ahmadi, the deputy spokesman of Afghanistan’s foreign ministry, Afghan news website TOLOnews reported on Wednesday.
Separately, an Afghan official working with the foreign ministry in Kabul told Reuters news agency that the government had “decided against attending the Moscow conference”, adding that they will “hold direct talks” with the Taliban, without the direct involvement of foreign powers.
The comments came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted as saying that the Taliban plans to take part in the September 4 talks in Russia’s capital, Moscow.
The Taliban has confirmed to Al Jazeera that they will attend the talks.
Russia has invited 12 countries, including the United States, to the talks, but Washington has declined the invitation. Russia’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it regretted the US decision.
It is unclear whether the Afghan officials’ statements on Wednesday will affect Russia’s decision to invite the Taliban.