Afghanistan peace talks begin, but U.S. not participating

Moscow, Russia (NBC) - The Taliban is at the peace talks table in Moscow this week. Multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan opened in Moscow Friday with representatives from the Taliban and the Afghanistan High Peace Council.

There was not an official delegation from the Afghan government.
Russia invited twelve countries and the Taliban, fighting to re-impose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster by U.S.-led troops, but the United States and the U.S. backed Afghan government declined to come to Moscow.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejected the invitation on the grounds that talks with the Taliban should be led by the Afghan government.

Representatives from Iran, China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan arrived for the talks, officials said.

The Moscow talks underline the increasingly active role Russia is playing in Afghanistan, decades after Soviet forces withdrew from the country, with business investment plans, diplomatic and cultural outreach and small military support for the central government.