Moscow Talks on Afghanistan: Taliban Seek Recognition, Say ‘No Threat to Countries Near & Far’

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Russia on Wednesday ‘recognised’ Taliban efforts to try and stabilise the situation in Afghanistan even as the insuregnt group called on the international community to ‘recognize the current government of Afghanistan’.

Afghanistan’s interim Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said, “Now that the new Islamic government has been formed under the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as a responsible government to all countries of the world, the region, especially our neighbors, we assure that the security situation in Afghanistan is reliable and there is no threat to countries near and far in Afghanistan.”

Russia is hosting the Taliban for talks in Moscow in a bid to assert its influence on Central Asia and push for action against Islamic State fighters which it says have massed in perennially volatile Afghanistan.

The talks, which include officials from 10 countries including India, China and Pakistan, are one of the Taliban’s most significant international meetings since seizing power in mid-August.

They come after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned last week that IS fighters were gathering in Afghanistan to spread discord in former Soviet republics flanking Russia.

Russia’s veteran foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is set to address the gathering.

The Taliban delegation is headed by Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi, a senior figure in the new Afghan leadership who led talks with the European Union and the United States last week.

Those followed talks in Ankara between the Taliban and Turkish officials.

Brussels has pledged one billion euros ($1.2 billion) to avert a humanitarian crisis after the hardline group’s takeover.

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that one of the aims of the Moscow meeting was to consolidate the “efforts of the international community to prevent a humanitarian crisis”.

Moscow also said the formation of an “inclusive government” would be on the agenda, and that parties to the talks were expected to release a joint statement afterwards.

Moscow has reached out to the Taliban and hosted its representatives in Moscow several times in recent years, even though the Taliban is a designated terrorist organisation in Russia.

(With inputs from AFP)

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