Senior Taliban officials, including the group's main political adviser, met with Afghan political figures in Moscow on Tuesday. They said they are committed to peace in Afghanistan – even if the US-led talks seem to get stuck.
In a message that the Taliban have not changed since negotiations with the US began last fall, Taliban co-founder and political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar stated that the insurgents want to end 18 years of conflict – but would only sign a deal after foreign troops would stop Afghanistan.
The Taliban are & # 39; really committed to peace, but think that the obstacle to peace must first be removed & # 39 ;, said Baradar.
His comments came at the start of the two-day meeting, marking 100 years of diplomatic ties between Russia and Afghanistan, rarely on TV.
Taliban representatives led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (C), head of Taliban Political Bureau Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai (2nd R) attend Afghan talks with Afghan politicians at a conference that held a century of diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and Russia marks
Taliban leaders led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (fourth from left) were in Moscow for the talks
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai greet each other prior to their meeting
Today's warm welcome for the Taliban was not in line with the cruel nine-year war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan from 1979.
The conflict was an attempt by Moscow to support the new pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.
Nearly 100,000 troops occupied cities and roads in the country and an adversity in the form of the Mujahideen was wiped out.
Taliban representatives led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (C), accompanied by Taliban Head of Political Bureau Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai (R) arrive for Afghan talks with Afghan politicians
Former warlord Atta Muhammad Noor said the previous meeting in Moscow & # 39; fairly positive results & # 39; had delivered
Today's warm welcome for the Taliban was not in line with the cruel nine-year war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan from 1979
In the course of the 1980s, around 1 million people were killed, including 18,000 Afghan soldiers, 14,500 Soviet troops and 90,000 Mujahideen.
The Soviets left in 1989 and left Afghanistan in the grip of a civil war that paved the way for the takeover of the Taliban in 1996.
The combination of Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and NATO plans to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of this year has left some in the country for the future.
The conflict was an attempt by Moscow to support the new pro-Soviet regime in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the main political leader of the Taliban group, left and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban's chief negotiator, speaks to the media
Taliban representative Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai arrives for the meeting organized under the presidency of the former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai
It was a subject Baradar touched on in his speech today, adding: & # 39; The obstacle is the occupation of Afghanistan, and that should stop. & # 39;
Baradar – who helped Mullah Omar find the Taliban – was named his political leader in January following his release from a prison in Pakistan.
The Tuesday meeting in Moscow again overthrew senior members of the government of President Ashraf Ghani, who are considered by the Taliban to be a US-backed puppet regime, although the head of the Kabul government's high peace council had visited.
Other Afghan politicians – including former President Hamid Karzai and candidates who challenge Ghani in a presidential election scheduled for September – were also present.
The talks mark the second time Taliban leaders have met with Afghan figures in Russia, following a February summit where former enemies pray and chat together over meals.
Former warlord Atta Muhammad Noor said the previous meeting in Moscow & # 39; fairly positive results & # 39; had delivered.
& # 39; We are in favor of having good relationships with our brothers, with the Taliban, & # 39; said Noor.
& # 39; Let's take a step back, embrace each other and create conditions for the beginning of peace & # 39 ;.
Moscow appears to be influencing the ongoing process, and the US announced last month that Washington had reached a consensus with China and Russia on the key formula for a peace agreement that it is negotiating in Afghanistan.
But a recent sixth round of talk between US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban ended this month in Doha without tangible progress quoted by the negotiating teams.
While the Taliban insist that foreign troops must leave Afghanistan before it can agree to peace, the US has refused to agree to a withdrawal until the Taliban have instituted security guarantees, a ceasefire and other obligations including an & # 39; Afghan & # 39; dialogue with the Kabul government and other Afghan representatives.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who opened Tuesday's meeting, said that Russia and Afghanistan have a common goal – fighting terrorism & # 39; and reiterated that Moscow supports a full withdrawal of foreign troops.
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