Days after US President Donald Trump announced that peace negotiations with Taliban are dead the insurgent group’s negotiating team arrived in the Russian capital on Friday. The team led by Mullah Sher Mohammad Stanikzai marked an important development as it was Taliban’s first international visit following the collapse of talks with Washington. Moscow has twice this year hosted meetings between the Taliban and prominent Afghan personalities.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity with news agency AP, did not say with whom the Taliban would be meeting in Moscow.
Moscow has been accused of aiding the Taliban as a safeguard against a burgeoning Islamic State affiliate closely linked to the Central Asian terrorist group, the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan.
Earlier, US President Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted that secret meetings that were to be held at Camp David with Taliban leaders and the Afghan president had been cancelled following a bombing in Kabul last week. “They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great soldiers, and 11 other people,” Trump tweeted about the Taliban.
“I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations,” the US president said.
At least 16 people were killed in a massive blast claimed by the Taliban in Kabul. "Sixteen killed, 119 wounded in last night’s attack. The explosion was caused by a tractor filled with explosives,” interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi on September 3 had said.
The Taliban have continued bloody assaults on civilians and security forces even as their leaders meet with U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar to negotiate an end to nearly 18 years of war.
The United States in the negotiations has also sought Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will no longer be a launching pad for terror attacks such as the September 11, 2001, attack on the US by al-Qaida. The Taliban government had harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Some 20,000 US and NATO forces remain in Afghanistan after formally ending their combat role in 2014.
Fearing a return to power of the hardline Taliban, many worry the deal and subsequent negotiations will lead to a reduction in personal freedoms and limited women’s rights that modern Afghans have grown accustomed to.
US troops were first sent to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda, which was sheltered by the former Taliban regime. Washington now wants to end its military involvement—the longest in its history—and has been talking to the Taliban since at least 2018.