US to Skip Moscow Format Talks on Afghanistan, Cites Logistical Reasons

Citing logistical reasons he didn’t elaborate on, the US Department of State spokesman Ned Price informed on Monday that United States will not participate in the Moscow Format consultations on Afghanistan, scheduled for October 20, The Hill reports.

Price added that the US supports the process itself and may join a similar meeting in the future, pointing that the Troika plus format (Russia, the US, China, Pakistan) is an effective and constructive forum they look forward to engage in.

The Moscow Format talks on Afghanistan were launched in 2017 on the basis of the six-party mechanism for consultations among representatives from Russia, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran and India.

Russian special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov confirmed on Friday that Moscow had invited the US to participate in the upcoming talks on Wednesday, which would allegedly focus on post-conflict reconstruction of the country and humanitarian assistance.

Officials have not shared the agenda of the talks apart the information that Russia invited members of the Taliban and they will attend the talks in Moscow although it considers the Taliban to be a terrorist organization and contacting the Taliban is punishable under Russian law.

Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that a large Taliban delegation will come to Moscow to take part in meeting. Russian officials stressed that that engagement with the Taliban- they sought for years to establish contact with- is necessary for stabilizing Afghanistan.

Amid the looming US pullout from Afghanistan, Russia, hosted in March a meeting on Afghanistan attended by representatives from the US, China and Afghanistan.

Moscow has sought to be a power broker when it comes to matters involving Afghanistan ever since withdrawing from the country in 1989 when it was still the Soviet Union.

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