Russia holding Afghan conference sans US

Moscow

Russia is hosting a conference in Moscow this week that will bring together Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, India and Iran to discuss a possible solution of the conflict in Afghanistan.
This meeting is part of Russia’s effort at playing a more pro-active role in Afghanistan for the first time since its invasion of the country in 1979.
The last conference Moscow hosted on Afghanistan in December included only China and Pakistan, prompting a strong protest from the Afghan government.
The one this week is more inclusive of the regional stakeholders, but excludes the United States or NATO, leading to speculation that Russia is more interested in undermining the Unites States than in solving the regional problems, a VOA report said.
At a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, chairman Senator John McCain said Russia is propping up the Taliban to undermine the U.S.
“Given how troubling the situation is in Afghanistan, any efforts by any outside stakeholder to look for regional solutions to the war there should be welcomed,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy Asia director at the Washington based Wilson Center. The question he asked, however, was what is Russia trying to do.
“Is it genuinely trying to rally the key players to come up with an actionable plan to wind down the war? Or is it just trying to scale up its role in Afghanistan to undercut U.S. influence?”
Other regional analysts, however, are looking at the development with more optimism. “This framework does include all the regional players that have a major stake in Afghanistan”.—INP

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