Taliban to take part in Moscow talks on Afghanistan on Sept. 4: Interfax

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil in Moscow, Russia August 20, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Taliban plans to take part in Afghanistan peace talks in Moscow on Sept. 4, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency on Tuesday.

Lavrov’s ministry said in a statement that Russia had invited 12 countries, including the United States, to international talks, which come as Moscow is taking a more prominent role on Afghanistan.

Moscow supported an Afghan government offer of a three-month ceasefire, and regretted that the Taliban rejected the offer on Monday, the ministry said.

Foreign Ministry official Zamir Kabulov was cited by Interfax on Monday as saying Moscow had invited the Taliban, which is banned in Russia and considered a terrorist organisation.

Abdul Kayum Kuchai, Afghanistan’s ambassador in Moscow, welcomed the Taliban’s involvement in the talks, the RIA news agency reported.

Russia conducted international talks on Afghanistan in April last year, but the United States did not attend, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Mark Heinrich