MOSCOW, August 20 (Sputnik) – The Taliban movement has accepted Russia’s invitation to attend the Moscow format of Afghan reconciliation talks scheduled for September 4, media reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department Director Zamir Kabulov told Sputnik that Moscow expected the Taliban to participate in the upcoming conference. Afghan Ambassador to Russia Abdul Qayyum Kochai, in turn, told Sputnik that Kabul does not mind the participation of the Taliban movement in the meeting.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Taliban’s decision to attend the talks comes as the movement steps up its political engagement with the United States in what seems to be political balancing.
Washington, meanwhile, is likely to abstain from the format, the newspaper suggested.
The latest diplomatic efforts on Afghanistan come amid Kabul’s bids to reach a lasting ceasefire. On Sunday, President Ashraf Ghani announced a ceasefire with the Taliban to mark the upcoming Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday. The president said the truce would begin on Monday and would last for three months. Ghani noted, however, that the ceasefire would only be in place if the Taliban adheres to it.