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Russia: Afghanistan’s political, military situation on Moscow talks agenda

The Taliban and representatives from 10 countries, including China, Pakistan and India, will participate in meeting in Russia on Wednesday. The US will not join the talks “due to logistical reasons”.

Afghan senior politicians and members of a Taliban delegation attend peace talks in Moscow, Russia on May 30, 2019.
Afghan senior politicians and members of a Taliban delegation attend peace talks in Moscow, Russia on May 30, 2019. (Reuters)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has revealed that its meeting in Moscow will focus on the developing political and military situation in Afghanistan.

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Moscow is hosting talks on Wednesday with officials from the Taliban, China and Pakistan, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special representative was quoted as saying last week

Participants of the “Moscow format” talks – representatives of 10 countries and the Taliban – plan to make a joint statement after the meeting, it added.

The establishment of an inclusive government and efforts for a global response to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan will be also on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Moscow invites Taliban to Afghanistan talks

Taliban recognition

The Moscow format, a mechanism established in 2017 for the Afghanistan issue, includes China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Afghanistan, and other countries.

It held several rounds of talks in Moscow in 2017 and 2018.

Lavrov on Tuesday said Russia will not officially recognise the Taliban for now and wants the group to make good on promises it made when it came to power in Afghanistan.

Lavrov was speaking in southern Russia on the sidelines of a conference organised by the Valdai Discussion Club and ahead of talks in Moscow on Wednesday.

He said the group’s promises included, in particular, those on political and ethnic inclusivity in the make-up of the government.

US will not join the talks

On Monday, the State Department said the United States will not join the talks due to logistical reasons, but it was open to participating in the future.

Moscow hosted a conference on Afghanistan in March at which Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the then-warring Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence.

Since then, the United States and its allies have withdrawn their troops after 20 years on the ground, the Taliban seized power and the previous government collapsed.

The United States and other Western countries are grappling with difficult choices as a severe humanitarian crisis looms large over Afghanistan. They are trying to formulate how to engage with the Taliban without granting it the legitimacy it seeks while ensuring humanitarian aid flows into the country.

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