MOSCOW, June 25 (Sputnik) – Russia does not believe that there is potential for direct talks between Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban radical movement, Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department Director Zamir Kabulov said on Monday, commenting on reports about the upcoming meeting between the two parties for negotiations.
Earlier in the day, Azerbaijani media reported that the peace talks between Afghan officials and representatives of the Taliban would be held on Thursday in Baku on the sidelines of a session of the International Contact Group (ICG) for Afghanistan.
“I cannot see any prospects [for this meeting] so far. There are a lot of rumors, but I do not feel [there may be any prospects for peace talks]. The Taliban still refuses to negotiate with the Afghan government,” Kabulov told reporters, asked about Moscow’s assessment of the possibility of talks between the Afghan authorities and the Taliban.
On Sunday, Afghan presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi said that Kabul was optimistic about the prospects of peace talks with the Taliban and sure that it was possible to hold such talks.
In mid-June, Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada, the leader of the Taliban, reportedly called on the United States, a significant player in settling the Afghan conflict, to engage in direct peace talks with the group if Washington believed in peacefully resolving the crisis.
The United States, in turn, has said that it is ready to engage in peace talks with the Taliban, but that such negotiations should be led by the Afghan government.
On June 7, the Afghan authorities declared a nine-day truce with the Taliban from June 11 to June 19 to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday. On June 17, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced that the ceasefire would be prolonged for another 10 days, and called on the militants to follow suit. That day, the Taliban’s three-day truce with the government finished with no plans on prolongation.