MOSCOW, November 13. /TASS/. Russia is baffled at the United States’ attempts to accuse it of hindering dialogue between the Afghan authorities and the radical Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia), especially on the background of the recent consultations in Moscow that involved both parties, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
"We took notice of the statement US Under Secretary of State David Hale made at a conference organized by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on November 8, where he said in particular that Russia is allegedly hindering peace talks with the Taliban movement," the ministry said. "Such statement cannot but be baffling on the background of Russia’s persistent efforts in cooperation with the regional partners to facilitate the launch of the process of intra-Afghan reconciliation."
The ministry recalled that on November 9 Moscow hosted a conference on Afghanistan that involved delegates from Kabul and Taliban and that was attended by an observer from the United States. "According to the participants, the conference was a major step on a path of establishing direct peace dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban movement," the ministry stressed.
"We consider Hale’s pronouncements as a clumsy attempt to shift responsibility for the United States’ own failure in Afghanistan and the lack of progress in Washington’s efforts to find a solution to the Afghan problem on Russia," the ministry stressed.
On November 9, Moscow hosted the second meeting of the Moscow-format conference on Afghanistan. It was attended by senior diplomats, special envoys and observers from Russia, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, the United States, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. A delegation from Taliban’s political office in Doha took part in the conference, for the first time.
After the conference, director of the Russian foreign ministry’s second Asia department, Zamir Kabulov, said that the Taliban said it would be ready for talks with the Afghan government only after a schedule for the withdrawal of foreign troops is agreed with the United States.