Russia hosts meeting on Afghanistan

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia is hosting a conference on Afghanistan bringing together representatives of the Afghan authorities and the Taliban.

Opening Friday's meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced hope it could help pave the way for peace talks.

The conference marks Moscow's attempt to get the Afghan authorities and the Taliban together at a table. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has sent a diplomat to observe the discussions.

Russia's first attempt to hold the conference in September fell through after the Afghan authorities refused to attend. This time, the Afghan government hasn't sent its envoys, but members of the government-appointed Peace Council are attending the event.

Taliban officials and Peace Council members have met at past forums elsewhere, and while no formal talks were ever held they have had some face-to face discussions.