Kabul Deplores Exclusion From Trilateral Meeting

Kabul Deplores Exclusion From Trilateral MeetingKabul Deplores Exclusion From Trilateral Meeting

Government officials in Kabul have reacted with dismay to a trilateral meeting in Moscow involving Pakistan, China and Russia to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

The gathering in the Russian capital-the third in a series of consultations involving Russia, China and Pakistan that have so far excluded Afghanistan-is likely to deepen worries that the government in Kabul is being sidelined in negotiations over the country’s future.

Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni, Afghan Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, said the government was not optimistic about the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting, Aljazeera reported.

“Even if such talks are organized with a goodwill, it cannot yield any substantial results because no one from the Afghan side is there to brief the participants about the latest ground realities,” Mostaghni said.

He noted that meetings without the presence of Afghan government officials will not represent a real picture of the situation.

For their part, the representatives from Russia, China and Pakistan at the Moscow meeting said the influence of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group was growing in Afghanistan and that the security situation there was deteriorating.

They also agreed to invite the Afghan government to such talks in the future, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

“[The three countries] expressed particular concern about the rising activity in the country of extremist groups, including the Afghan branch of IS,” Maria Zakharova, the ministry’s spokesperson, said.

She added that the three countries agreed on a “flexible approach to remove certain figures from sanctions lists, as part of efforts to foster a peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban movement”.

Responding to the developments, Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan parliament member, said Pakistan should convince the Taliban to come to the negotiating table “so that we have only one enemy to fight, which is the IS”.

“What we are concerned about is that there is a legitimate elected government that could represent Afghanistan in international and regional talks,” she told Aljazeera from Kabul.

“And we know that without Afghanistan’s inclusion, any process will prove unsuccessful. At this stage, we have multiple enemies in Afghanistan, therefore our vulnerabilities are growing and, as a result, we cannot defeat our enemies in the country.”

 US Not Invited

Along with Afghanistan, the United States, which still has nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan more than 15 years after the Taliban was toppled, was not invited to the Moscow talks.

Officials in Kabul and Washington have said that Russia is deepening its ties with the Taliban, but Russia has rejected the claims.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last month asked the UN to add the Taliban’s new leader to its sanctions list, further slowing a faltering peace process.

A number of Afghan provincial capitals have come under pressure from the Taliban this year, while Afghan forces have been suffering high casualty rates, with more than 5,500 killed in the first eight months of 2016.

An offshoot of IS claimed several attacks last year.

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