Afghan Taliban unlikely to attend Afghan peace conference

Afghan Taliban unlikely to attend Afghan peace conference

KABUL - The Afghan Taliban are likely to miss an Afghan peace conference at which participants are set to call for direct talks between the militant group and the government of President link linkAshraf Ghani link , the foreign ministry in Uzbekistan said on Monday.

Representatives of the group have made no application to attend the March 26-27 meeting in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, suggesting they will not attend, a ministry statement said.

Ghani is set to attend along with US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Also set to attend are the foreign ministers of India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Turkey and UN Special Representative for link linkAfghanistan link , Tadamichi Yamamoto.

The link linkTaliban link urged Washington last month to begin talks to end almost 17 years of war in link linkAfghanistan link , which suggests they want to explore dialogue.

The group ruled link linkAfghanistan link until 2001 when it was defeated by US-led troops in the wake of the September 11 attacks and it is fighting to restore Islamic rule in the country.

Ghani in February offered recognition of the link link Taliban link as a legitimate political group as part of a proposed process he said could lead to talks. -Agencies