Ghani Heads High-Level Delegation to Russia to Attend SCO Summit

President Ashraf Ghani left Kabul on Thursday for a two-day official visit to Russia accompanied by a high-level government delegation, said a statement from his office.

President Ghani is scheduled to attend a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Ufa city, Russia, due on Thursday and Friday.

On the sidelines of the meeting, President Ghani is expected to meet leaders of several countries, especially Russia and Pakistan, the statement added.

According to the Pakistani officials, the Afghan President Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet on the recent peace talks held in Islamabad, the country’s capital city.

The summit is expected to be attended by the Afghan President Ghani, Pakistani PM Sharif, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

This comes a day after the first round of formal peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban leadership wrapped up in Islamabad on Wednesday.

According to the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), both sides agreed to present a list of their respective proposals at the second round of talks.

The foreign ministry has confirmed that four people individuals comprised Kabul’s delegation to the talks, and that they included Hikmat Khalil Karzai, MoFA’s political deputy, and Haji Dim Mohammad, a member of the High Peace Council (HPC). In addition, sources close to the talks have said Farhadullah, another HPC member; Faizullah Zaki, the head of the First Vice President’s Office; Asadullah Sadati, representing the Second Vice President’s Office; Eng. Muhammad Asem, representative to the Chief Executive; and Mohammad Natiqi, representing the Second Deputy Chief Executive, were all present at the meeting.

The full delegation reportedly flew to Afghanistan in a United Nations aircraft.

Shir Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the former Taliban health minister, as well as Mullah Hassan and Mullah Jalil, were said to be the Taliban’s representatives in the meeting.

According to Pakistani officials, representatives from the United States and China had been monitoring the talks.

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