Russia on November ember 9 hosted a landmark international meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow aimed at kick-starting peace talks after decades of war.

It is the first time Taliban militants have attended such an event.

Members of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, which oversees peace efforts but does not represent the Afghan government, were also present.

But the Taliban again stressed the group would only hold direct talks with the US - not the Kabul government.

China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan were among other participants.

The Afghan government refused to send its officials to the meeting but has allowed a delegation of the country’s High Peace Council to take part in the event.

A statement released by Afgha Foreign ministry on November 9 says the High Peace Council participated “in its own capacity as a National but non-government institution.”

The Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC) is a body of the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program, established by Hamid Karzai to negotiate with elements of the Taliban.  The current chairman of the council is former Afghan Vice-President Karim Khalili who was appointed to the post in June 2017.

The United States had observer status.

"We discussed the subject of direct talks with the Taliban and asked them to choose the place and the starting time," said a High Peace Council spokesman, quoted by Russia's RIA news agency.

According to the BBC, the Taliban have said the meeting is “not about negotiating with any side.”  Western officials and the Afghan government reportedly view the Moscow talks with some suspicion - some fear it could derail other efforts at negotiations.