Russia backs Taliban inclusion in future interim Afghan govt

Published March 13, 2021
Russian foreign ministry’s comments have come as a May deadline looms for the United States to end its two-decade military involvement in the ravaged country. — File photo
Russian foreign ministry’s comments have come as a May deadline looms for the United States to end its two-decade military involvement in the ravaged country. — File photo

MOSCOW: Russia said on Friday it backed the Taliban’s integration into a future interim government in Afghanistan, as global powers ramped up efforts to secure a peace deal and end decades of war.

The Russian foreign ministry’s comments have come as a May deadline looms for the United States to end its two-decade military involvement in the ravaged country.

Washington has encouraged the Afghan leadership to work towards establishing an “inclusive” government and proposed talks with the Taliban to secure a peace accord.

“The formation of an interim inclusive administration would be a logical solution to the problem of integrating the Taliban into the peaceful political life of Afghanistan,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters ahead of talks next week in Moscow.

Turkey says it’s ready to host peace talks

However, she added that the decision should be made “by the Afghans themselves and should be resolved during negotiations on national reconciliation”.

US President Joe Biden is wrapping up a review on whether to stick to an agreement with the Taliban negotiated by his predecessor Donald Trump who wanted to pull out the final US troops from Afghanistan by May.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that Ankara was ready to host such a meeting in April. “Both the Taliban and the negotiation delegation, meaning the government side, had asked us to host such a meeting before,” the Anadolu state news agency quoted him as saying.

“We will do this (meeting) in coordination with brotherly Qatar,” he added in reference to a separate round of talks staged in Doha. The scheduled US withdrawal is being complicated by a new surge in fighting and concern that a speedy exit may only unleash further chaos.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2021

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