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No geopolitical games be played in Afghanistan, says Russia as peace talks open

Moscow, Nov 9 (UNI) Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that Afghanistan should not be used for geopolitical games as consultations on the future of conflict-wracked country began here on Thursday.
“No one should think in terms of geopolitical games that may result in another transformation of Afghanistan into a field for competition between external players with drastic consequences both for the Afghans and their neighbors,” Lavorov said, adding that Russia supports the preservation of a united and indivisible Afghanistan.
Russia’s hosting of the peace conference almost 30 years after it pulled out of Afghanistan in disgrace and comes after efforts of the United States and others failed to stop the constant fighting in the country.
Friday's session is the second such meeting in which a Taliban delegation is taking part for the first time. The Taliban delegation includes top political envoy Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai and his deputy, Abdul Salam Hanafi, both from the Taliban’s political office in Doha.
India is participating in the meeting at a "non-official level".

Russia launched the Moscow format consultations in 2017 as part of its diplomatic efforts to press for political solution to the Afghan conflict.
“Russia, as the organiser of this session, sees its role in working together with Afghanistan’s regional partners and friends who have gathered at this table today to extend all possible assistance to facilitate the start of a constructive intra-Afghan dialogue," said Lavrov.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has also decided to send a delegation of the government-sponsored High Peace Council to the meeting.
Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said additional secretary for Afghanistan and West Asia will lead the Pakistani delegation to the meeting.
"Role of Afghanistan's neighbors would be very important in such a process. In our view, Afghan peace and reconciliation process supported by Afghanistan's neighbors and important regional countries would have more chances of success," Faisal said during his weekly press briefing in Islamabad.
The Moscow format consultations were earlier scheduled for September 4, but were postponed after the Afghan government refused to attend on the plea that all meetings on Afghanistan should be Afghan-led. The US had also announced to stay away from the September meeting.
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