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Russia says Afghan peace talks in Moscow postponed

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov takes part in a meeting in Moscow on August 24, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Russia says international peace talks on Afghanistan – originally planned for next week – have been postponed following a phone conversation between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Moscow had been preparing to host peace talks on September 4 and had invited 12 countries, including the US, and Taliban representatives to participate.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced in a statement on Monday that Ghani had "in principle" backed the idea of such a meeting but said Afghanistan needed more time to come up with a “consolidated position” on the issue.

"An agreement was reached to jointly work on a new date of the meeting through diplomatic channels," the ministry added.

The office of the Afghan presidency also confirmed in a statement that Lavrov and Ghani had decided to postpone the meeting and hold it at a later date.

The statement said Ghani insisted that the peace talks should be "Afghan owned and led," adding that Lavrov had agreed the peace process should be under the auspices of the Afghans and stressed that Moscow was "ready to cooperate.”

Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end when the US and its allies invaded the Asian country in October 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban regime from power, but ever since, the group has been involved in widespread militancy, killing thousands of civilians as well as Afghan and American forces and displacing tens of thousands of people across the country.

The United Nations said in a recent statement that blasts, attacks and clashes between militants and Afghan forces killed over 1,600 civilians in the first six months of the year, the highest number in the past decade.

Back in February, the Afghan government called on the Taliban to join peace talks “without preconditions.”

The Taliban have repeatedly declared that they will not enter talks until US-led foreign troops leave the country.

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