Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the deputy head of the Taliban negotiating team that is holding peace talks with the Afghan government, visited Moscow to discuss Afghan peace process with Russian officials, the group said.
The visit comes a week after the Biden administration announced that it would review the deal signed by former president Donald Trump with Taliban in February last to pull out US troops in exchange for peace.
The group said Stanekzai met President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov and other foreign ministry officials during the Moscow visit.
“The ongoing situation of the intra-Afghan negotiations and subjects concerning the full implementation of the Doha agreement were discussed during the meeting,” Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said on Twitter, referring to the US-Taliban deal signed in the Qatari capital in February 2020. “Russia assured its support for restoring peace in Afghanistan.”
Taliban representatives visited Russia several times before entering into talks with the Trump administration which finally culminated in the landmark deal.
The deal paved the way for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan by May this year — in return for the insurgents offering some security guarantees and agreeing to hold peace talks with Afghan government.
The peace talks began on September 12 but violence upsurged in Afghanistan. High-profile assassinations have increased recently, particularly in capital Kabul, where several journalists, activists, judges and politicians have been murdered. Officials blame the Taliban for the killings, though the group has denied the accusations.
During the talks in Moscow on Thursday, the Russian side “spoke in favour of the early launch of meaningful and constructive inter-Afghan negotiations, leading to an end to the bloody civil war,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Despite months of discussions, the peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government in Doha have largely stalled, according to Kabul’s negotiating team.