Taliban land in Russia after peace talks with US ‘dead’


Observer Report


A negotiating team from the Taliban arrived in Russia on Friday, a representative of the Afghan insurgent group told a foreign news agency, just days after United States President Donald Trump declared that he had ended peace talks with the group.
According to a report published by the Russian state news agency Tass, the Qatar-based spokesman of Taliban, Suhail Shaheen, said the delegation held consultations with Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov. The envoy is a representative to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Interfax news agency that the Taliban meeting in Russia highlighted need of an early resumption of peace talks with the United States as per the wishes of the Afghan people.
The visit is the first international engagement from the Taliban that has come to the spotlight since the collapse of the talks with Washington last week. In Russia, the Taliban team was led by Mullah Sher Mohammad Stanikzai.
The Taliban shura, or leadership council, opposed its negotiators going to Camp David and admonished those who had accepted US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s invitation that was extended at the end of August. Talks had collapsed after Trump tweeted about the summit.
Conflicting reports suggest that the Taliban were still communicating with US negotiators, at least to find out what to do next. The Taliban spokesperson claimed that the Camp David meeting with the US was delayed because the group wanted witnesses to the peace agreement.
“The purpose of these visits is to inform leaders of these countries about the peace talks and President Trump’s decision to call off the peace process at a time when both sides had resolved all outstanding issues and were about to sign a peace agreement,” said a senior Taliban leader in Qatar.
Russia, which has hosted meetings between the Taliban and Afghan political and civil society representatives, said this week it hoped that the process could be put back on track and urged both sides to resume talks.