With the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorating by the day due to the resurgence of the Taliban, Russia has decided to convene a 12-nation meeting on Afghanistan on 14 April to review the progress in peace efforts in the battle-scarred nation.
Apart from the six nations ~ Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran ~ which had attended the meeting on Afghanistan held in Moscow in February, the United States and the five Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are expected to be invited to the 14 April 14 meeting, it is understood.
This will be the first time that the US would be present at such a meeting being hosted by Moscow, signaling the growing realisation that a solution to the Afghanistan crisis could not be found without the active involvement of its neighbours as well as the Western powers.
Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar, who was in New Delhi earlier this month, had informed his Indian interlocutors about Russia’s proposal to hold another round of peace talks on Afghanistan. Kabul is believed to have impressed upon Moscow the necessity of involving the US in the talks, considering the stakes that Washington has in Afghanistan.
The process of informal consultations on Afghanistan was initially started by Pakistan, Russia and China when representatives of the three countries met in Moscow in December last year. However, Afghanistan strongly objected to that meeting, saying a solution to the Afghan issue could not be considered or found without the involvement of the ‘legitimate’ Afghan regime.
Kabul’s reaction encouraged Russia to invite the representatives of Afghanistan, India and Iran to the second meeting held in February.
Meanwhile, Moscow has sought to dispel the impression that it was in agreement with Pakistan’s position on involving the Taliban in the peace talks without a firm commitment by the militant outfit that it would eschew violence and abide by the Afghan Constitution. Moscow has publicly also announced that it was not in any supporting the Taliban.
However, Pakistan is said to be insisting on involving the Taliban in the peace talks.