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Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 10:00
TASS: Moscow to host Afghanistan talks on March 18
By Reuters
Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 10:00 By Reuters

A man walks in front of the Russian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Moscow on Dec 22, 2020. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV / AFP)

MOSCOW - Russia plans to hold a conference on Afghanistan in Moscow later this month, the TASS news agency said on Tuesday, but the US State Department did not confirm American attendance.

The TASS report comes after the United States shared with Afghan officials, Taliban leaders and others a draft peace plan calling for replacing the government with a power-sharing interim administration pending elections under a new constitution.

Moscow also has advocated a transitional power-sharing government as part of a peace deal. Russia’s special representative on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, told the Sputnik news agency last month that Moscow was ready to host intra-Afghan peace talks to break the stalemate in Doha

The US proposal is intended to jump-start stalled talks in Doha between the Taliban and a team that includes Afghan officials on a political settlement to decades of conflict.

ALSO READ: Sources: UN envoy in Doha to push on Afghan peace process

Moscow also has advocated a transitional power-sharing government as part of a peace deal. Russia’s special representative on Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, told the Sputnik news agency last month that Moscow was ready to host intra-Afghan peace talks to break the stalemate in Doha.

TASS said the Russian Foreign Ministry planned to hold the conference on Afghanistan on March 18, but gave no further details.

A State Department spokesperson noted that, “The United States has met in the past with Russia in support of the Afghanistan peace process. Recently we have discussed scheduling a meeting, but the United States has nothing to confirm at this time.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote last week in a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that the United States would ask Turkey to host “a senior-level meeting of both sides in coming weeks to finalize a peace agreement.”

The United States is facing a May 1 deadline for withdrawing the last 2,500 US troops from Afghanistan under a deal signed with the Taliban by the former Trump administration.

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, however, said on Tuesday a May 1 deadline for withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan may have to be reconsidered because the Taliban are not meeting their commitments under a 2020 peace deal.

READ MORE: US says no decision yet on troops in Afghanistan after May 1

Menendez became chairman of the influential foreign relations panel after Biden’s Democrats took control of the Senate in January.

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