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Russia favours dialogue with the Taliban: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks during a press conference with Chinese Foregin Minister Wang Yi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj following a trilateral meeting in New Delhi on December 11, 2017.   | Photo Credit: AFP

An inclusive political dialogue for peace in Afghanistan should include the Taliban and other regional countries, said Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov here on Monday . He said Russia had in the past contacted the militant group to sit down for negotiations. Addressing a gathering at a think-tank event, he said the American strategy of defeating extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan was not viable as the military method of the last 15 years had not reduced violence in the country.

“You cannot resolve the situation without having everybody on board and around the table. The government of Afghanistan, the Taliban, and those who can influence the situation, including neighbours who feel the bad influence of what is going on in Afghanistan should find a political solution,” said Mr. Lavrov urging for a broad-based discussion covering all sides from the region and Central Asia.

Russia had been boosting its presence in Af-Pak in the last few years and The Hindu had reported about Moscow’s diplomacy with the stakeholders in the region but Monday’s statement from Mr. Lavrov was a major public moment when Russia indicated its support for political dialogue with the Taliban.

He also slammed reported U.S. allegations that Russia had been open to unconditional talks with the Taliban and had been helping the group with arms.

“Never ever was there any proof or fact that Russia supported the Taliban or armed the Taliban as alluded by some American officials. We have contacted the Taliban only for two reasons, when our citizens or citizens of our allies got into harm’s way and we had to extract them and the second was to persuade the Taliban to sit down and negotiate. But we always reserve and say they must join negotiation provided they renounce violence and severe their links with terrorist organisations and respect the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” said Mr .Lavrov in an interaction at the Vivekananda International Centre.

He also pointed out that the fight against terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan cannot be separated from the issue of drug trade which funds violence in the country and the region. “The recent American strategy on Afghanistan which emphasises force will not work just as the huge army of NATO over the last 15 years did not curb violence nor reduce drug production. It is accepted that it feeds terrorist activities directly,” said Mr. Lavrov urging for an end to double standards in fighting drug trade.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 3:26:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/russia-favours-dialogue-with-the-taliban-lavrov/article21434509.ece

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