MOSCOW: Abdul Salam Hanafi, the head of the Taliban delegation, and other members take part in international talks on Afghanistan here on Wednesday.—Reuters
MOSCOW: Abdul Salam Hanafi, the head of the Taliban delegation, and other members take part in international talks on Afghanistan here on Wednesday.—Reuters

MOSCOW: Russia said on Wednesday the Taliban must meet expectations on human rights and inclusive governance to be recognised by international governments, but acknowledged efforts by its leadership to stabilise Afghanistan.

The comments from the Kremlin’s envoy to Afghanistan came during talks in the Russian capital with the Taliban, with Moscow aiming to project influence over Central Asia and urge action against what it says is a growing threat from the militant Islamic State (IS) group in the region.

Taliban representatives ahead of the Moscow meeting met the European Union and US officials and travelled to Turkey to win official recognition and aid from the international community after their takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August.

The Kremlin’s envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said on Wednesday that “of course” the question was raised, but that official acknowledgement of Taliban rule could only come when they “start fulfilling the expectations of the international community on human rights and inclusion”.

Afghanistan’s isolation is not in the interest of any side, says head of Afghan delegation

The Taliban delegation was 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.

“The isolation of Afghanistan is not in the interest of any side,” he said in Moscow. “This has been proven in the past.

“The government of Afghanistan is ready to address all the concerns of the international community with all clarity, transparency and openness.”

The Taliban badly need allies as Afghanistan’s economy is in a parlous state with international aid cut off, food prices rising and unemployment spiking.

Women’s rights under the Islamist regime are a top concern, and this week Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, one of the most senior figures in the Taliban government, hailed suicide bombers, calling them “heroes of Islam”.

The talks came after President Vladimir Putin warned IS fighters were gathering in Afghanistan to spread discord in former Soviet republics flanking Russia.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who addressed the gathering and criticised the absence of US officials, reiterated those concerns, saying “numerous terrorist groups” including IS and Al Qaeda have been seeking to exploit a security vacuum.

Lavrov noted the Taliban’s “efforts to stabilise the military and political situation and set up work of the state apparatus”.

The meeting came amid concern over a looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and Brussels has pledged $1.2 billion in aid after the Islamist group’s takeover.

Kabulov in Moscow urged the international community to abandon “bias” and unite to help the Afghan people. “Not everyone likes the new government in Afghanistan, but by punishing the government, we punish the whole people,” he said.

He said that a joint statement from all 10 participating countries concluding the talks would call on the United Nations to convene a donor conference to raise funds for Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2021

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