Wed, 23 Oct 2019

A team of Taliban negotiators from the militant group's Qatar office is in Moscow for talks with Russian officials, just days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that peace talks with U.S. officials have collapsed.

TASS quotes Mohammad Sohail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban's Qatar office, as saying that the Taliban delegation had met with Russia's special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, on September 13.

RFE/RL has independently confirmed that the Taliban delegation was in Moscow on September 13.

Shaheen was quoted by TASS as saying that the Taliban's talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy had focused on 'the recent developments regarding the peace process in Afghanistan.'

Moscow has hosted two previous rounds of talks in 2019 between Taliban negotiators and prominent Afghan personalities.

The September 13 meeting in Moscow marks the first international visit by members of the Taliban's Qatar office since Trump on September 9 declared that peace talks with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad were 'dead.'

Earlier, Trump cancelled a secret meeting with Taliban negotiators that had been scheduled at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

In Washington, Khalilzad has been called to testify at a U.S. congressional hearing on September 19 about the collapse of the talks with U.S. officials.

Based on reporting by AP, TASS, and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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