MOSCOW: Russia said on Tuesday it had important matters to discuss with Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders and was working to remove the Taliban from its list of banned terrorist organisations.

“This is a country that is next to us, and one way or another we communicate with them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“We need to resolve pressing issues, this also requires dialogue, so in this regard we communicate with them like practically everyone else — they are the de facto authority in Afghanistan.”

Peskov did not elaborate on the “pressing issues”, but Russia suffered its deadliest attack for 20 years last month when gunmen stormed a concert hall outside Moscow, killing at least 144 people.

The militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility and US officials said they had intelligence that it was the network’s Afghan branch, Islamic State Khorasan, that was responsible.

Russia has said it is also investigating a Ukrainian link, something Kyiv and the United States have strongly rejected.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2024

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