Russia hosts regional consultations on Afghanistan

MOSCOW (AP) " Russia says it has hosted regional consultations on Afghanistan intended to help national reconciliation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says the meeting involved senior diplomats from Afghanistan, China India, Iran, Pakistan and ex-Soviet Central Asian nations.

It said in a statement that participants in Friday's talks supported the Afghan government's peace efforts and urged the Taliban to stop fighting and engage in a direct dialogue with the government.

Russia had also invited the U.S. to join the consultations, but it refused.

U.S. State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said Thursday that while Washington supports regional peace efforts, the Moscow consultations "seemed to be a unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region that we felt wasn't constructive at this time."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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