Russia hosts Afghan talks, calls for an inclusive government
Russia hosted talks on Afghanistan on Oct. 20 involving senior representatives of the Taliban and neighboring nations, a round of diplomacy that underlined Moscow's clout in Central Asia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov opened the talks and emphasized that "forming a really inclusive government fully reflecting the interests of not only all ethnic groups but all political forces of the country" is necessary to achieve a stable peace in Afghanistan, a nation of 39 million.
Russia had worked for years to establish contacts with the Taliban, even though it designated the group a terror organization in 2003 and never took it off the list. Any contact with such groups is punishable under Russian law, but the Foreign Ministry has responded to questions about the apparent contradiction by saying its exchanges with the Taliban are essential for helping stabilize Afghanistan.
Unlike many other countries, Russia hasn't evacuated its embassy in Kabul and its ambassador has maintained regular contacts with the Taliban since they took over the Afghan capital of Kabul in August.
Lavrov commended the Taliban for their efforts to stabilize the military-political situation in the country and ensure the operation of state structures.
"We are satisfied with the level of practical interaction with Afghan authorities, which allows to effectively ensure the security of Russian citizens in Afghanistan and the unimpeded operation of our embassy in Kabul," Lavrov said in his opening speech.
At the same time, he emphasized the importance of respecting human rights and pursuing balanced social policies, adding that he discussed those issues with the Taliban delegation before the talks.
Lavrov said Russia would soon dispatch a shipment...