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Russia to host Pakistan, US, China for Afghanistan talks on Oct 19: report

Moscow will host the United States, China and Pakistan next week for talks on Afghanistan, the Kremlin’s envoy to the country told Russian news agencies on Friday.

News agencies cited Zamir Kabulov as saying the meeting would take place on Tuesday and that the countries “will try to work out a common position on the changing situation in Afghanistan”.

Kabulov said representatives of the Taliban have confirmed they will take part in the talks in Moscow next week.

Taliban’s foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi confirmed this in a tweet, saying that Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy of the council of ministers in the Taliban government, will lead the delegation in the meeting.

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Taliban officials have not yet announced the members of their delegation.

According to Reuters, the Moscow talks also involve India and Iran alongside China and Pakistan.

Officials in Islamabad confirmed to Dawn.com that Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq will represent the country in two meetings in Moscow next week.

An official privy to the development said Sadiq will lead the delegation in the Troika-plus meeting on October 19 with China, Russia and the US and the Moscow-format consultations on October 20.

Russia is hosting the two meetings on Afghanistan for the first time since the Taliban takeover of Kabul on August 15.

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Moscow had earlier hosted an international conference on Afghanistan in March at which Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the then-warring Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence.

Since then, the United States and its allies have withdrawn their troops after 20 years on the ground, the Taliban have seized power and the previous government has collapsed.

Russia is now worried about the potential for fallout in the wider region and the possibility of Islamist militants infiltrating the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which Moscow views as its southern defensive buffer.

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Since the Taliban takeover, Moscow has held military exercises in Tajikistan and bolstered hardware at its military base there.

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