MOSCOW (AP) – A negotiating team from the Taliban arrived Friday in Russia, a representative said, just days after President Donald Trump declared dead a deal with the insurgent group in Afghanistan.
Russian state news agency Tass cited the Taliban’s Qatar-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as saying the delegation had held consultations with Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Afghanistan.
It was the Taliban’s first international visit following the collapse of talks with Washington. The team was being led by Mullah Sher Mohammad Stanikzai.
In a weekend tweet, Trump had called off negotiations and canceled a meeting he said he wanted to have with Afghan government leaders and the Taliban at the Camp David presidential retreat.
Moscow has been accused of aiding the Taliban as a safeguard against a burgeoning Islamic State affiliate that has close ties to the Central Asian terrorist group, the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan. Russia has stepped up its defenses in Central Asia and has claimed thousands of IS fighters were in northern Afghanistan
Moscow has twice this year hosted meetings between the Taliban and prominent Afghan personalities.