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Taliban to meet former rivals in Moscow

AT-KABUL: Representatives from Taliban political office are set to hold meetings with the heads of political and jihadi parties in Moscow, sources close to the group have said, a session to be held between groups who fought for several years.

The meeting is planned to be held on February 5th and 6th, according to the sources.

Some of the political parties have confirmed they had been invited to the Moscow meeting.

Earlier, Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, a senior Taliban negotiator had said that the group would not talk to the government of Afghanistan, but would sit with the representatives of political parties, religious and tribal elders.

“We have previously talked with all the political parties and have resolved some differences,” Stanekzai told a Qatari news website.

Hezb-e-Wahdat-e-Islami Mardom-e-Afghanistan (Islamic Unity Party of the People of Afghanistan) led by deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiqi has also confirmed the meeting, but has said the party was yet to make decision whether to send representative.

For President Hamid Karzai, Taliban’s Ambassador to Islamabad Abdul Salam Zaeef and Hekmat Khalil Karzai former deputy foreign minister are the other figures being invited to the Moscow meeting.

Russian government held a meeting on Afghan peace in November with the participation of representatives from Taliban, the high peace council and regional countries.

The governments of Afghanistan and US refused to attend the November meeting.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov called the meeting as in important goal of facilitating opportunity for direct talks between government and Taliban.

This is not clear if regional countries and the United States would attend the upcoming Moscow meeting.

The Moscow meeting can help Russia enhance its role in Afghanistan years after its military withdrawal after a bloody war with the Mujahideen guerrillas.

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