A splinter faction of the Taliban, led by Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, said on Sunday the recent Moscow meeting on peace in Afghanistan was a “lie”.
But officials from Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC) said Friday’s Moscow meeting was an important platform towards building peace in Afghanistan and that the peace facilitating body is optimistic about starting direct talks with the Taliban.
This comes two days after a meeting in Moscow where representatives of the Taliban and envoys from 11 countries, including the US, exchanged views on the prospects of peace in the country.
A delegation from Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) also attended the meeting.
Inaugurating the meeting, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he hoped the Moscow summit would pave the way for direct talks between Kabul and the Taliban.
Lavrov said Afghanistan should not become a competition field between powerful countries once again.
He also said Daesh, with support of foreign countries, wants to find a footprint in Afghanistan and from there expand its activities to Central Asia and further. Lavrov said the countries that attended the Moscow meeting want to help Afghanistan eradicate such a threat.
Meanwhile, Niazi said: “Moscow meeting is nothing except a lie like other meetings held by the Afghan government, they only deceive the poor and the oppressed people.”
“This delegation (HPC delegation) rushed to the discussions without any information; the HPC finalized its decision to participate only two days before the conference; this delegation was not fully prepared to attend the meeting,” said political analyst Nasrallah Stanekzai.
Meanwhile, sources within the HPC have confirmed that the body only decided to attend two days before the summit.
“The delegation which attended the meeting was very weak; the Taliban described Afghanistan at the summit as an invaded country, but the delegation were not able to react,” said one politician Najibullah Kabuli.
But HPC’s Assadullah Barakzai defended the decision and said: “If there is peace and security in Afghanistan, there is no longer a need for the US’ presence and also the Afghan people are not in need of support of the US.”
In the meantime, President Ashraf Ghani met with US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad on Saturday night and was briefed on the envoy’s schedule over the next week, which will see him visit a number of countries in the region.
Ghani thanked Khalilzad for the work he’s doing to bring about peace and discussed issues around his second trip to the region, the statement added.
Khalilzad was in the region last month – stopping first in Kabul before visiting four other countries and meeting with the Taliban in Qatar.
After wrapping up his trip he returned to Kabul and briefed government on his meetings. He also called on the Afghan Government and the Taliban to establish official negotiating teams.
The US State Department said last week, Khalilzad, along with a delegation, will visit Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar between November 8 and 20.
On Sunday meanwhile, members of Afghanitan’s Meshrano Jirga (lower house of parliament) accused Russia of exploiting the Moscow summit for its own benefit.
They said that Russia by holding such a meeting wants to legitimize its secret ties with the Taliban.
“The Afghan government should play its own political and diplomatic roles at such meetings,” said a senator Gul Ahmad Aazami.
“Taliban appeared in this meeting from a powerful position, but the Afghan delegation appeared in a very weak and vague position,” said senator Ghairat Baheer.
“We saw weakness from the delegation in this meeting,” said senator Farhad Sakhi.