U.S. will not join Afghanistan talks hosted by Russia
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 : The United States will not join talks on Afghanistan hosted by Russia this week, the Department of State said on Monday. "We will not participate in the Moscow talks," State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in a press briefing. "The Troika-plus has been an effective, a constructive forum. We look forward to engaging in that forum going forward, but we're not in a position to take part this week." Price said that the United States is unable to join the talks due to logistic difficulties, adding the U.S. side supports the process.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken later in the day announced that U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is leaving his post and will be replaced by his deputy Thomas West.
The departure of Khalilzad, who served as special envoy for Afghanistan under presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, came less than two months after the U.S. withdrawal from the country. Russian special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said on Friday that Russia had invited the United States to participate in the upcoming talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, which would focus on post-conflict reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.
Russia has invited Taliban representatives to the meeting slated for Oct. 20. The Moscow-format consultations on Afghanistan were launched in 2017 on the basis of the six-party mechanism for consultations among representatives from Russia, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran and India.