Russia to host talks with Afghan leaders, Taliban delegation

Russia’s foreign ministry says Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has agreed to send a group of senior politicians to peace talks in Moscow, at which a delegation representing the Taliban will be present.

In a statement on Saturday, Russia‘s foreign ministry said the talks were confirmed to be held on November 9, after proposed multilateral talks scheduled for August were rejected by the Ghani government.

“It will be the first time that a delegation from the Taliban’s political office in Doha will attend such a high-level international meeting,” the foreign ministry said.

The ministry added that it had invited several other countries to send representatives, including India, Iran, Pakistan, China and the United States.

Back-channel diplomacy between the Taliban and a range of countries – including the US – has taken place over the years to end the latest phase of Afghanistan‘s decades of war, which began with a US invasion in 2001.

Hundreds of people, including scores of civilians, have been killed in Taliban attacks in recent weeks.

The group said last month that it would press on with its war despite the Kabul government’s offer of a ceasefire.

Reports by international aid organisations have suggested the group controls or contests around 40 percent of the country’s districts.

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