The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Russia to support a peace process which is led and owned by the Afghans and coordinate its efforts towards restoring peace in the country with the Afghan government.
Speaking to TOLOnews this week, Stoltenberg said the NATO alliance fully supports an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and that no one can impose peace on Afghanistan from the outside.
“And of course, when it comes to other actors or players and nations and neighbors, this is about supporting the Afghan-led peace process. It is hard to have an specific opinion about the meeting in Moscow,” said Stoltenberg.
The statement comes just days ahead of a proposed meeting on peace in Moscow.
At a press conference on Tuesday, in Kabul with President Ashraf Ghani, Stoltenberg said that peace was important for both Afghanistan and the international community, adding that the alliance is committed to crushing the terrorists and making sure that Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terror groups.
“NATO's role is that we strongly support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and therefore we strongly welcome the ceasefire we saw this summer,” he said adding that NATO is not directly part of talks, but the alliance supports the process.
“NATO is not directly part of the negotiations, but what we are is that we provide support to the Afghan government, not least with our train, assist and advise mission, to create the conditions for a political, peaceful solution. Because I think we all have to understand that there is a link between what's going on on the battlefield and what we may achieve around the negotiating table,” said Stoltenberg.
Meanwhile officials from the High Peace Council (HPC) said that four deputies from the peace facilitating body will attend the Moscow conference – which could be held on Friday.
“Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, as a government and political and institution and as a body which leads the peace process, will participate at the conference on behalf of Afghanistan,” said HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Tahiri.
The HPC argues that the Moscow meeting is aimed at brokering talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The Taliban meanwhile said in a statement the group will send a delegation to the conference.
But questions have been raised as to whether the Moscow meeting supports potential talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
“We strongly value all efforts made towards peace, but a major part of the issue goes to the big rivalries that we believe are among the major and powerful countries of the world,” said MP Fawzia Kofi.
Originally the meeting was scheduled for September 4 in Moscow, but Afghanistan refused to attend citing that any such discussions should be Afghan-led.
When the US turned down the invitation to attend, Kabul followed suit. This came after the Taliban announced it would send a delegation to Moscow from Qatar.
In August, the Afghan government announced that Afghanistan and Russia will co-chair proposed future talks in Moscow on Afghanistan’s peace.
These are the talks that are still to be held.
Delegations from twelve countries have reportedly been invited to attend the conference including a delegation from Taliban’s political office in Qatar.
Pakistan has already confirmed its participation in the conference.