MOSCOW (AP) — A negotiating team from the Taliban arrived Friday in Russia, a representative told The Associated Press, just days after President Trump declared a deal dead with the insurgent group in Afghanistan.

Russian state news agency Tass cited the Taliban’s Qatar-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as saying the delegation had held consultations with Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Afghanistan. The visit was confirmed to the AP by a Taliban official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

The Interfax News Agency cited an unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying the meeting in Russia underlined the necessity of renewing talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, and that the Taliban confirmed their readiness to continue a dialogue with Washington.

It was the Taliban’s first international visit following the collapse of talks with Washington. The team was being led by Mullah Sher Mohammad Stanikzai.

“This is a notable development, as it suggests the Taliban wants to underscore its continued interest in dialogue, even after President Trump pulled the plug on the US-Taliban talks,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center. “And how striking that the insurgents have chosen to telegraph a message of conciliation by engaging with Moscow, a key U.S. rival that has made great efforts to deepen ties with the Taliban in recent months.”

In a tweet, Trump had called off negotiations and canceled a meeting he said he wanted to have with Afghan government leaders and the Taliban at the Camp David presidential retreat.

Shaheen told the Taliban’s official website on Tuesday that the group was still communicating with U.S. negotiators, at least to find out what to do next.

The Taliban shura, or leadership council, opposed its negotiators going to Camp David and admonished those who had accepted U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s invitation that was extended at the end of August.

Shaheen was quoted on the website as saying the Camp David visit was delayed, saying the Taliban wanted the agreement signed and witnessed by foreign ministers of several countries, including Russia. He said the Taliban also wanted Qatar to announce the agreement before any Camp David meeting.

Moscow has been accused of aiding the Taliban as a safeguard against a burgeoning Islamic State affiliate that has close ties to the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, a militant group in Central Asia. Russia has stepped up its defenses in Central Asia and has claimed that thousands of IS fighters were in northern Afghanistan

Moscow has twice this year hosted meetings between the Taliban and prominent Afghan personalities.

While Washington has been seeking an exit to its longest war, the Taliban are at their strongest since their ouster in 2001 and hold sway over more than half the country, staging attacks across Afghanistan.

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