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Kabul Protests Being Left Out Of Moscow Meeting On Peace In Afghanistan

Russian President Vladimir Putin with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistanin July 2015.

The Afghan government has expressed concern over a third high-level meeting about the country held in Moscow on December 27 between Russia, China, and Pakistan that did not include any Afghan representatives.

"Discussion about the situation in Afghanistan, even if well-intentioned, in the absence of Afghans cannot help," said Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni.

The United States, which still has nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan and has been fighting the Taliban with Afghan forces since 2001, also was not invited to the Moscow talks.

Officials in Kabul and Washington say Russia has been deepening its ties with Taliban militants, though Moscow has denied that.

The Russian Foreign Ministry and Pakistan Foreign Ministry said after the meeting that the three countries agreed to invite the Afghan government to such talks in the future.

They said the three countries want an "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process."

They warned that the Islamic State extremist group has been growing in influence in Afghanistan amid a "deteriorating" security situation.

Russia and China, as permanent members of the UN Security Council, agreed to be "flexible" about delisting Afghans from UN sanctions lists to "foster peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban," they said.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters