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We’ve not made final decision on attending Moscow meeting yet, says Taliban


The Afghan Taliban said on Sunday that they would attend the forthcoming meeting of the regional countries' representatives in Russia about peace in Afghanistan, but only if the agenda of the meeting is shared with the Taliban in advance.
“We have not got the agenda of the meeting yet. However, if it’s going with the agenda of the previous summit, the Taliban will participate,” Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesperson of the Afghan Taliban, told Arab News.
The meeting was scheduled for Sept. 4 in Moscow but it was postponed after the Afghan Government refused to attend.
Rahimullah Yusufzai, an expert on Afghan affairs, said the meeting was postponed on the request of Afghan Government. After the US refused to participate in the meeting, the Afghan Government declined to attend, he said.
Little success sans US
“It is a positive step for Afghan peace,” said Yusufzai. “However, it cannot be fully successful without the participation of the US, which would choose not to attend it for the obvious reasons,” he said. He added that the US, which recently said that the release from Pakistan of Mullah Omar’s deputy, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was a concession to the Taliban, will never want the Russians in the leading role.
Even if it’s without the US, Yusufzai said, the meeting will still bring the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan Government closer.
“They will spend some time in the same event and are most likely to have sittings on the sideline of the meeting, which will bring them closer,” Yusufzai said.
No immediate role for Baradar
“Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar has been released and has joined his family,” the Taliban spokesman said.
However, Mujahid maintained that it would take some time for Baradar to develop a close association with the Mujahedeen, “so he will relax with his family for the time being.”
Yusufzai did not see an immediate role for Baradar in the peace talks.
“First, Mullah Baradar was arrested on (the information of) the US from Karachi. Although the Government of Pakistan had announced in 2013 it would free him, this could not happen without US consent. Now he has been released with US consent,” the Afghan affairs expert said.
Yusufzai said Baradar had been Mullah Omar’s deputy and many structural changes had occurred in the Taliban’s organization over several years which will not allow any active role for him immediately. “Baradar will have to become a member of the central Shoura in order to have any say in the affair, although he still enjoys highest respect among and from the Taliban ranks,” Yusufzai said.
Dates yet to be fixed
While responding to a question about the Interfax agency report that the next Moscow format meeting on Afghanistan will take place in Moscow on Nov. 1, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova declined to confirm that date. “I can say that at the moment, the process of agreeing the dates, modalities and participants of the next Moscow format consultations on Afghanistan is still under way,” she told the press here on Thursday.
“I do not have a date or a list of participants that I could share with you,” she added, while also declining to confirm that the Russian Foreign Minister would participate in the summit.

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