SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 22 September 2021, Wednesday |

Moscow to host Afghanistan talks on March 18: TASS

Russia plans to hold a conference on Afghanistan in Moscow later this month, the TASS news agency said on Tuesday, but the U.S. State Department did not confirm American attendance.

The TASS report comes after the United States shared with Afghan officials, Taliban leaders and others a draft peace plan calling for replacing the government with a power-sharing interim administration pending elections under a new constitution.

The U.S. proposal is intended to jump-start stalled talks in Doha between the Taliban and a team that includes Afghan officials on a political settlement to decades of conflict.

Moscow also has advocated a transitional power-sharing government as part of a peace deal. Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s special representative on Afghanistan, told the Sputnik news agency last month that Moscow was ready to host intra-Afghan peace talks to break the stalemate in Doha.

The Russian Foreign Ministry plans to hold the conference on Afghanistan on March 18, TASS said but did not elaborate.

A State Department spokesperson noted that, “The United States has met in the past with Russia in support of the Afghanistan peace process. Recently we have discussed scheduling a meeting, but the United States has nothing to confirm at this time.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote last week in a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that the United States would ask Turkey to host “a senior-level meeting of both sides in coming weeks to finalize a peace agreement.”

The United States is facing a May 1 deadline for withdrawing the last 2,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan under a deal signed with the Taliban by the former Trump administration.