Both sides to conflict gear up for Moscow peace summit

Sources from the High Council for National Reconciliation and Sapedar Palace confirmed on Monday that the Afghanistan government delegation, led by Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, will attend the Moscow summit this week.

So far no further details on the number of delegates nor their identities have been revealed.

Taliban also confirmed that a delegation from their side will attend the summit.

Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesman said that a 10-member delegation, led by Mullah Baradar, will attend the Moscow meeting this week on the Afghan peace process.

The announcement of Abdullah’s attendance came just met minutes after Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, arrived at Abdullah’s office for a meeting.

Doha meeting

Earlier Monday, US and Qatari officials met with the Taliban’s deputy leader in Doha.

Khalilzad, and Qatar Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani on Monday met with Baradar, said Mohammad Naeem, a Taliban spokesman.

This comes after Turkey and Russia said that they are willing to host meetings on peace.

According to Naeem, the implementation of the Doha deal was discussed at the meeting.

“The implementation of the Doha agreement, the current situation of Afghanistan and the ongoing process of the Intra-Afghan negotiations” were discussed at the meeting, added Naeem.

Close sources to the Taliban meanwhile said that rotating of peace talks from Doha to Istanbul was also discussed.

“Moving talks to Turkey, has caused concern in Qatar. But Khalilzad and Mullah Baradar assure Qatari people that key decisions will be made in Qatar,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member.

Afghan politicians meanwhile say Taliban had gained in strength since the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, sent a letter to President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah about forming an interim government and holding a meeting in Turkey.

“Taliban has been accepted as a strong power in Afghanistan, they lead one side of the peace process, Taliban are doing things consciously,” said Wais Nasari, a political analyst.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Javid Ahmad, said that Afghan peace talks in Doha should be rotated to other venues.

Ahmad told Reuters peace talks should not be held in one fixed location, but rotated among venues in Europe, Asia, the Middle East or Afghanistan itself.