Russia announces support for Afghanistan interim coalition with Taliban

WION Web Team
Moscow, RussiaUpdated: Mar 12, 2021, 05:47 PM IST

Russian President Vladimir Putin Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

Russia has said it plans to hold a conference on Afghanistan in Moscow on March 18

Russia on Friday said it was in favour of Afghanistan forming an interim government including members of the Taliban, ahead of talks next week in Moscow aiming to resolve the conflict.

The foreign ministry's comments 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," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters.

But she added that the decision should be made "by the Afghans themselves and should be resolved during negotiations on national reconciliation".

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that talks on Afghanistan planned in Moscow this month aim to help peace talks in Doha and are not rival processes.

Lavrov was speaking at a news conference in Doha with his Qatari and Turkish counterparts.

Russia has said it plans to hold a conference on Afghanistan in Moscow on March 18.

Meanwhile, Zamir Kabulov, the Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan and Director of the Foreign Ministry`s Second Asian Department said all the participants invited to attend a meeting in Moscow on the Afghan peace process next week have confirmed their attendance.

When asked whether American representatives will take part in the consultations, he said that US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad had confirmed his participation.

On March 9, Kabulov told TASS that Russia had invited the US, China, Pakistan, representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban to Moscow for the meeting scheduled to be held on March 18.

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that Doha had also received an invitation from Russia.

The conference was proposed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The US and the Taliban signed an agreement in February 2020, which called for a full withdrawal of American military forces from the conflict-ridden country by May 2021 if the militant group meets the conditions of the deal, including severing ties with other terrorist organisations.

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.

The so-called Doha Accord signed in the Qatari capital last year underscored Trump's desire to end long-running US military involvement.

But the Biden administration has signalled that it wants to take a hard look at Trump's deal and its repercussions for Afghanistan and regional stability.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote a letter to Afghan leaders encouraging them to consider a "new, inclusive government."

He also proposed that talks take place within weeks in Turkey to seal a comprehensive peace deal with the Taliban.