Following Moscow summit, Afghan government, Taliban agree to expedite peace talks

Following Moscow summit, Afghan government, Taliban agree to expedite peace talks

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The Russian RIA news agency quoted Afghan officials as saying that the Afghan government and the Taliban decided on Friday to try to speed up the peace process at a meeting in Moscow that was held at an international conference on the peace process.

The United States, Russia, China and Pakistan call on the warring parties in Afghanistan to reach an immediate ceasefire at a meeting in Russia six weeks before the deadline for withdrawal was agreed last year.

“We expressed our readiness to accelerate the (peace) process,” Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, told RIA news agency. “They (the Taliban) did as well.”

Abdullah said that the two sides did not discuss any specific issues when they met in Moscow last Friday.

Moscow hosted the international conference on Afghanistan on Thursday, at which Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence, and on the Taliban not to launch any offensives in the spring and summer.

The conference aimed to reinvigorate negotiations which have been taking place between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar’s capital Doha, largely stalled over government accusations that the insurgents have failed to halt violence.

The Moscow conference was the first time the United States had sent a senior representative to talks on Afghanistan under a format launched by Russia in 2017. Washington agreed last year with the Taliban to withdraw its troops by May 1 after nearly two decades, and is looking for support among regional powers for its plans for the peace process.

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