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Western officials and Ghani's government view the Moscow meeting with some suspicion as an attempt by Russian Federation to push its way into a process they say must be led by Kabul.

"This conference was not about direct talks", Taliban spokesman Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai told journalists in translated comments quoted by Interfax news agency. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who pressed Russian Federation to cancel a similar meeting in September, sent four senior members of his nation's High Peace Council.

During the meeting, the two sides signed a standard operating procedure for streamlining the working of the group among the two concerned Ministries on a regular basis, in future. He said Pakistan had tried to convince the United States that any help to resolve the Afghanistan issue should be welcomed.

A Taliban delegation attended a diplomatic conference in Russian Federation for the first time, but the Kabul government sent no official representative, and the sides reported no progress.

"I am counting on you holding a serious and constructive conversation that will justify the hopes of the Afghan people", he said before the talks continued behind closed doors.

In a statement issued this week by the Taliban, the group said: "Taliban political envoys will attend the meeting but the participation does not mean they will hold talks with anyone".

Sarabi said they had come to Moscow "to talk with all members of the meeting" and that they wanted it to lead to direct negotiations. "Given how keen Kabul is to launch a peace process, amid a strengthening insurgency and intensifying violence, it recognizes that any meeting about a peace process with Taliban participation is worth attending".

The first such meeting, proposed for 4 September of this year, was called off at the last moment after the Afghan government pulled out, describing its involvement in the Moscow meeting as "unnecessary" as the Taliban had "disrespected internationally-sanctioned principles and rejected the message of peace and direct negotiations". "It's shown it is willing and capable of promoting national reconciliation in Afghanistan".

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As well as the five-member Taliban delegation, Russian Federation brought to the meeting several senior Afghan political figures, including some who have clashed with Ghani in the past.

The Taliban are not ready to negotiate with the Afghan government, a Taliban member said at talks in Moscow on November 9. This week, the White House's special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is touring the region, tasked with pressing the Taliban and the government to form negotiating teams.

Representatives from the militants' Doha office said they were taking part alongside senior diplomats from the region to find "a peaceful solution to the issue of Afghanistan".

"America does want to and needs to leave Afghanistan but we need to leave the Afghan government in charge and not to let the return of Taliban", former naval intelligence officer John Jordan told RT, adding that Afghanistan has turned into "a problem that everyone wants to solve but no one wants to own".

Ghani and the US are struggling to bring the group to the negotiating table.

US officials have held two meetings with the Qatar-based Taliban negotiators since July.

The Taliban statement said the movement sought "positive and constructive relations with other countries" and welcomed global assistance in aiding reconstruction.


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