Friday, March 24, 2017

U.S. turns down Russia invitation to Afghan peace conference

U.S. turns down Russia invitation to Afghan peace conference: The United States won't attend a multinational peace conference on Afghanistan next month in Russia, a State Department official said Thursday.

The reasons: The U.S. wasn't consulted before receiving the invitation and doesn't know Russia's objectives for the gathering.

The official said that Washington wants to work with Moscow on regional efforts to end the 16-year war, and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would bring up the matter when he visits Russia in April. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, India and several Central Asian nations are among the invitees to the Moscow conference. Afghan and U.S. officials say the Taliban aren't invited. The State Department hasn't publicly announced its position on the planned conference.

Last year, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States met to jump-start the peace process but that effort faltered.

The official said the U.S. wants nations in the region, which have a shared interest in peace in Afghanistan, to increase pressure on the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government.