Pakistan, China, Russia warn of increased IS threat in Afghanistan

Published December 27, 2016
The three countries also agree to invite the Afghan government to such talks in the future.—Reuters/File
The three countries also agree to invite the Afghan government to such talks in the future.—Reuters/File

Russia, China and Pakistan warned on Tuesday that the influence of the militant Islamic State (IS) was growing in Afghanistan and that the security situation there was deteriorating.

The countries had issued a joint statement after the third round of trilateral consultations on regional issues between officials from Russia, China and Pakistan held in Moscow on Tuesday.

"(The three countries) expressed particular concern about the rising activity in the country of extremist groups, including the Afghan branch of IS," Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters after the meeting.

An offshoot of IS has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Afghanistan over the last year.

Zakharova said Russia, China and Pakistan had "noted the deterioration of the security situation (in Afghanistan)".

The three countries also agreed to a "flexible approach to remove certain figures from sanctions lists as part of efforts to foster a peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban movement," Zakharova added.

A number of Afghan provincial capitals have come under pressure from the Taliban this year while Afghan forces have been suffering high casualty rates, with more than 5,500 killed in the first eight months of 2016.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last month had asked the United Nations to add the Taliban's new leader to its sanctions list, further undermining a stalled peace process.

Representatives from the three countries also agreed to invite the Afghan government to such talks in the future, the Russian foreign ministry said.

Earlier on Monday, Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mustaghni had termed the agenda of the meeting a matter of concern.

“Talking on Afghanistan without consulting the country raises serious questions for the Afghan people. We are worried that what are the reasons behind the meeting and want the relevant parties to explain,” he was quoted as saying.

The United States, which still has nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan more than 15 years after the Taliban were toppled by US-backed Afghan forces, was not invited to the Moscow talks.

The gathering is likely to deepen worries in Washington that it is being sidelined in negotiations over Afghanistan's future.

Officials in Kabul and Washington have said that Russia is deepening its ties with Taliban militants fighting the government, though Moscow has denied providing aid to the insurgents.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that the government of Afghanistan should build national consensus promoting dialogue with the Taliban movement which is necessary for achieving reconciliation in the country, reported Russian news agency Sputnik.

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