On Friday, Russia played host to Afghanistan peace talks, with members of both the Taliban and Afghanistan’s High Peace Council attending. US, Pakistani, and Indian officials also attended. the event, though India’s official was “unofficially” there, and the US said they were merely observing.
The talks mark the culmination of months of Russian efforts to get both Afghan and Taliban officials to the table, though no agreements appear to have been made. Indeed, much of the talking was about the idea of having direct talks in the future, and ended in failure.
This is perhaps unsurprising, because in public talks, the Taliban repeatedly have insisted they can’t agree to such talks while foreign forces are occupying Afghanistan. The High Peace Council has similarly been averse to starting peace under present circumstances, and seem to be holding out for some imaginary future where the US has virtually won the war.
Other efforts to get direct negotiations going have been a little more successful in that they’ve occurred behind-the-scenes. This has allowed both signs to privately suggest a willingness to compromise on their demands as part of broader efforts.
Given how poorly the US war is going, there is likely to be much reason for talks to continue, even if everyone is loathe, after 18 years of war, to admit they are real talks. Some Afghan officials believe they need to start making a deal before a calamitous defeat.