Two days of unprecedented talks with high-ranking Afghan politicians in Moscow, which concluded on Wednesday, 6 February, were “very successful”, said the Taliban, despite disagreements over women’s rights and demands for an Islamic constitution in the war-torn country.
“All participating sides in the conference have full consensus that realizing lasting, nationwide and dignified peace which is the demand of all Afghan people, can be achieved through an all-inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue.”
“It was very successful. We agreed on many points and I am hopeful that in future, we can succeed further, and finally we can reach a solution, we can find a complete peace in Afghanistan,” Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who headed the Taliban delegation, told reporters in the Russian capital on Wednesday.
The rare public appearance saw Taliban officials spelling out their vision for Afghanistan in front of rolling cameras and a host of political heavyweights, including former president Hamid Karzai.
The insurgents sidestepped President Ashraf Ghani, sitting down instead with his chief rivals at an extraordinary meeting which saw Karzai and other sworn enemies of the Taliban praying with the militants.
No government official was invited, despite Ghani offering to talk peace, underscoring the Taliban’s hostility toward the increasingly-marginalised Kabul administration.
The Moscow meeting took place a week after the Taliban held separate talks aimed at ending 17 years of fighting with American negotiators in Doha, where Ghani was also not invited to the table.
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday, 5 February, described those talks as “constructive” and voiced cautious hope for a negotiated end to America’s longest war.
On Wednesday, the Taliban claimed that Washington had agreed at the Doha talks to withdraw half of the US ground troops by the end of April — saying the process had already begun.