Afghanistan will not attend multinational peace talks hosted by Russia early next month, the Afghan foreign ministry has said, a decision that could make Moscow reconsider its plan to invite the Taliban. "The peace process definitely needs to be carried out under the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. We will not participate in the Moscow talks," said Sibghat Ahmadi, the deputy spokesman of Afghanistan's foreign ministry, Afghan news website TOLOnews reported on Wednesday. Separately, an Afghan official working with the foreign ministry in Kabul told Reuters news agency that the government had "decided against attending the Moscow conference", adding that they will "hold direct talks" with the Taliban, without the direct involvement of foreign powers. The comments came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted as saying that the Taliban plans to take part in the September 4 talks in Russia's capital, Moscow.
Russia on Wednesday recognised Taliban efforts to try and stabilise the situation in Afghanistan but expressed concern that "terrorist" groups threatened the stability of the entire region. Russia is hosting the Taliban for talks as the Kremlin seeks to assert its influence on Central Asia and push for action against Islamic State fighters which it says have massed in the perennially volatile country. Taliban delegates arrive for talks with Russia in Moscow, as the rulers of Afghanistan seek to assert influence on Central Asia and push for action against Islamic State fighters within Afghanistan. The talks are one of the Taliban's most high-profile international meetings since seizing power in mid-August. "A new administration is in power now," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told officials from 10 countries including China and Pakistan.