Haneef Atmar calls Moscow talks ‘a starting point’

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Former National Security Advisor and presidential candidate Mohammad Haneef Atmar has confirmed that he will attend the Moscow talks along with other “leaders of the country”, calling it an important step and a starting point for inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations.

Documents obtained by TOLOnews show that the talks were organized by Russia-based Afghan refugees union.

Former president Hamid Karzai, former vice president Mohammad Yunus Qanuni, former Balkh governor and Jamiat-e-Islami member Atta Mohammad Noor, Jamiat-e-Islami member Mohammad Ismail Khan, second deputy chief executive and Wahday party member Mohammad Mohaqiq, head of National Islamic Front of Afghanistan Sayed Hamid Gailani, former member of Taliban Abdul Salam Zaeef and Zabihullah Mujaddedi, son of former president Sebghatullah Mujaddedi are Afghan politicians who will reportedly attend the meeting.

TOLOnews also obtained a document which shows President Ashraf Ghani’s former special envoy for reforms and member of Jamiat-e-Islami party, Ahmad Zia Massoud, has also been invited to attend the talks which will be held on February 5 and 6.

Sources close to the Taliban said a delegation from the group led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, former head of Taliban’s Qatar office, will also attend the Moscow talks.

Atmar said in a tweet that they “will defend an Islamic Republic system, the values of the Constitution, achievements and legacies Afghans share”.

“We will also insist on making intra-Afghan talks inclusive, but we call on government to not look at the peace process from a narrow window and respect the role of the political parties and the nation in efforts for peace and in safeguarding the system and national institutions,” said Atmar.

The Afghan government has not been invited to attend the talks in order to pave the ground for Taliban participation at the event as a senior Russian government official put it last week – as quoted by Reuters.

The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) meanwhile said on Friday that talks will help the peace process and that the Russian government should respect an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

“Holding such meetings will not help us reach peace. We did not and do not see such meetings as necessary and will not attend this meeting,” MoFA spokesman Sebghat Ahmadi said.

The High Peace Council acknowledged on Saturday that members of the institution were also not invited to attend the Moscow talks.

“Afghanistan High Peace Council is not officially invited to Moscow meeting and no one is attending on behalf of the High Peace Council,” the HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Taheri tweeted. “We will wait to see the outcomes of the event and will make our views known afterwards.”

In line with these efforts, former president Hamid Karzai, who will also attend the meeting as a key participant, said he met with John Bass, US Ambassador to Afghanistan, on Saturday.

“Exchanged views on the peace process and the Moscow conference on Afghanistan,” Karzai tweeted.

This comes after the United States and Taliban officials last month agreed in principal on a draft framework for peace as the US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad put it.

The US and Taliban officials met in Qatar last month for the fourth time and for six days. However, the group has refused to talk with Ghani’s negotiators. ((TOLOnews)