RESPONDING TO QUESTION BY REUTERS
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Question: Possible participation of representatives of the armed Afghan opposition, in particular the Taliban Movement, in the forthcoming Tashkent international conference on Afghanistan is currently being discussed in various circles. Is there any chance to confirm or refute this officially and clarify the level of attendance of foreign countries’ delegations in the forum?
Answer: As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan has informed the public, invitations to the high-level conference initiated by Uzbekistan and Afghanistan have been sent to the UN Secretary General and the Special Representative for Afghanistan, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as Ministers of Foreign Affairs of China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The invitation was also sent to Qatar.
By March 12, foreign ministers of Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan preliminarily confirmed participation in the forum through diplomatic channels. The US will be represented by the Deputy Secretary of State.
Information on the level of other participants of the conference is pending.
Regarding the Taliban, a request for participation in the conference has been received neither through the Foreign Ministry of Afghanistan nor directly.
Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, the contributors to the forum are expected to express their consolidated stance for the necessity to start – in the soonest possible time – direct talks between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban without any preconditions. The fundamental thesis also anticipated to be included in the ensuing Tashkent Declaration is that the peace process should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led, in accordance with the provisions of resolutions and decisions of the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. Another key point is that the international community strongly opposes all forms and manifestations of terrorism.