Afghan parties meet behind closed doors in Moscow, discuss need of Islamic govt

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Moscow [Russia], March 20 (ANI): Following the Moscow conference on Afghan peace, delegates -- representing the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban as well as Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the Taliban -- held closed-door meetings and discussed the prospects for a negotiated settlement to the prevailing conflicts in the country.

Taliban, in the meeting held on Friday, once again insisted that a permanent ceasefire was applicable once an agreement is reached between Afghan parties to establish an Islamic government in the country, accepted by all the Afghans. But, Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said the stance of "Troika" member countries on the future political system in Afghanistan reflects the will of the Afghan people, reports Tolo News.

"We welcome this statement because its main focus is on achieving peace and the demands of the Afghan people and the concerns that exist among the Afghan people," Abdullah said.

"This issue can be discussed in the next stage. It is up to Afghans to decide what type of political system they want, but it is a resolute fact that the future system should be an Islamic government. There is no doubt in it," Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said.

Taliban negotiator, Suhail Shaheen who appeared at a press conference in Moscow on Friday, stressed the need for the establishment of an Islamic government, and that the peace negotiations in Doha should be expedited, arguing that the US military forces should be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the scheduled deadline of May 1, the report on Tolo News stated.

"We want a new Islamic government to get shape so that the Muslim nation of Afghanistan can get its benefit," Taliban negotiator Mullah Khairullah Khairkhaw said. Meanwhile, Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who held a separate meeting with the Taliban, said there is a need for an inclusive government to be formed.

This comes after a joint statement was issued following the conference in Moscow on Friday in which the four primary representative countries -- Russia, China, the US, and Pakistan -- stated that "they would not support the return of the Islamic emirate system in Afghanistan".

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday welcomed the statement by the Moscow conference and called it a step forward towards beginning serious talks for achieving peace based on Afghans' demand.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in a tweet on Friday said that during the Moscow conference, they "encouraged delegations representing the Islamic Republic and the Taliban, which included many prominent leaders, to prepare for and attend a leaders' meeting in Istanbul in early April". (ANI)