US likely to attend Moscow meeting on Afghanistan

Published October 18, 2021
A file photo of US State Department spokesperson Ned Price. — AFP/File
A file photo of US State Department spokesperson Ned Price. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: The United States appears willing to attend the Extended Troika talks in Moscow this week but is still reluctant to confirm its participation, diplomatic sources in Washington said on Sunday.

Russia’s presidential envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said last week that the group — which includes Russia, the US, China, and Pakistan — will meet soon to discuss the latest developments in Afghanistan.

Although he did not specify a date, Russian officials told journalists that the meeting could be held on Oct 20.

Mr Kabulov, however, said the participants “will try to work out a common position on the changing situation in Afghanistan”.

At a news briefing in Washington, US State Department’s spokesperson Ned Price indicated that the Biden administration was willing to attend the meeting.

“We do have an alignment of interests with countries like Russia when it comes to Afghanistan,” he said. “And we previously have found the extended Troika format to be useful.”

The US official said that Washington had “taken note of the upcoming session in Moscow” but he could not yet confirm America’s participation.

The United States, he said, was determined to ensure that outfits like Al Qaeda and the militant Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) group could never again use the Afghan soil as a launching pad for attacks on other countries.

“It is one of the shared interests that unite us not only with our allies and our close partners but also with countries like Russia,” he said, adding that the US remained “very focused” on the threat from IS-K and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

China has welcomed the proposed meeting, hoping that it would help restore peace and stability in Afghanistan and will lead to a durable “peace and reconstruction”.

The last Extended Troika meeting was held in Qatar on August 11 while the two earlier meetings were held on March 18 and April 30.

At the latest State Department briefing, Mr Price said that Pakistan was one of the countries that the United States was working closely with to facilitate the exit of Americans and others from Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2021

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