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Russia announces new series of meetings on Afghanistan

Russian Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov speaks to the press after Moscow format talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Russia on October 20, 2021 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]
Russian Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov speaks to the press after Moscow format talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Russia on October 20, 2021 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]

Russian Presidential envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, announced on Monday a series of meetings aiming to address "the post-conflict restoration" of Afghanistan, Anadolu News Agency reports.

On Wednesday, Iran will host a meeting of countries, neighbours of Afghanistan, and Russia is invited and will take part, Kabulov said at a news conference in Moscow.

In mid-November, the expanded troika on Afghanistan—Russia, the US, China, and Pakistan—will have a meeting in Islamabad, the first meeting with the recently appointed US envoy for Afghanistan, Tom West, Kabulov noted.

"The new US special envoy for Afghanistan wrote to me that he is waiting for a date (for the meeting), which means that the US will participate.

"At this meeting, we plan to discuss concrete, practical issues of how—and already together with the UN— we will start working on this project (post-conflict restoration of Afghanistan), (while) already having the support of all regional key states," Kabulov said.

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Kabulov noted that not only the US but also other NATO countries have to take part in Afghanistan's reconstruction, adding that he had consultations with the French envoy on Afghanistan last week and plans to meet with the German counterpart this week.

He also plans to meet with the EU representatives in early November, he said.

Refusing to unfreeze Afghan assets, West pushes Taliban to use illegal financial sources

Kabulov urged the Western countries to unfreeze the Afghan assets, saying that by refusing to do that, they "punish" the Afghan people.

According to Kabulov, about $8 billion were frozen in the US and $1.5 billion more in the European countries.

"Those people who are very concerned about the welfare of the Afghan people are hypocrites. Now the Taliban urgently needs $300 million just to pay the salary arrears of state employees—doctors and teachers. Who are they punishing, the new authorities or the Afghan people? It turns out the latter," Kabulov said.

The diplomat warned that by withholding money, the West will leave the Taliban no other option but to use illegal sources.

"If the collective West tries "to strangle the new Afghan authorities with a bony hand of hunger," it will give the opposite result —they will leave the Taliban no other option but to develop the drug industry and earn at least something to maintain stability. If this is what the West wants, they are on the right track," Kabulov noted.

Another option is selling weapons left by the US and NATO to third countries, he added.

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"What if the international terror group will ask the Taliban for purchases? When the Taliban does not have the means to ensure the vital activity of the country, it may prompt them to think about such proposals," he said.

The impoverished population, on the other hand, having no means for existence can either join the terror group "to put food on the table" or will rush to Europe, provoking new waves of immigration, Kabulov noted.

"If the West wants otherwise, it should do everything to encourage Afghans to stay at home. For this, they must be provided at least with emergency humanitarian aid at the first stage, and work at the second, so that every Afghan family has at least some predictability," he also said.

Taliban's exclusion from terror list depends on their behaviour

Kabulov said he feels the "internal readiness" of the UN top officials to remove the Taliban from the UN's list of terrorist organisations.

For that, the Taliban has to meet some expectations that were voiced at the meeting of the Moscow Format— to fight terrorism and drug crimes, provide a more inclusive character of the government and guarantee human rights, Kabulov said.

Speaking about human rights, Kabulov asked to refrain from imposing Western understanding of human rights on the Afghan people.

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"Afghanistan has its own civilization, its own cultural features, which does not necessarily coincide with our ideas. Let's not impose, but work in the context of the established cultural traditions in Afghanistan," he said.

Kabulov recalled some positive trends in Afghanistan, including the opening of secondary schools for girls in the Balkh province, return of women to work in the health and education sectors.

"Yes, the changes are not fast—from our point of view, everything is happening a little slower in Afghanistan than we want, but the main thing is that it is happening. For us, a steady trend is important," he said.

As for the inclusive character of the government, Kabulov explained it means giving representation in the government to all main political forces of the country.

Russia eyes involvement of global players in Afghan settlement

Kabulov went on saying that the Taliban's takeover in Afghanistan refocused the attention of the expanded troika—the format made efforts to launch the intra-Afghan talks, but this task is not relevant anymore.

Now, the Troika Plus is preparing to cooperate with international and global partners in Afghanistan, he added.

Kabulov welcomed India's participation in the meeting of the Moscow Format on Afghanistan, saying he knows, for sure, the representatives of the Indian delegation had contacts with the Taliban on the sidelines of the meeting.

"It was important to all of us that representatives of India took part in the Moscow format meeting. This suggests that the regional consensus has actually matured. And this is very important not only for talking to the new Afghan government, but it is also a positive signal to all the Afghan people, who should feel that the outside world is not abandoning them to their fate and will do everything they can do.

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"We welcome these steps, and hope that such contacts will contribute to the growth of mutual understanding between Kabul and New Delhi," he said.

Turning to Europe, Kabulov urged the EU "to take action upon words" and to restore its diplomatic mission in Kabul, insisting the Taliban guarantees the security of the foreign services in Kabul.

UN donor conference for Afghanistan

Asked about the dates of the donor conference in Afghanistan, Kabulov said it is up to the organisation to find a platform that should be convenient for all participants.

The conference has to consider large-scale goals, not urgent humanitarian aid, Kabulov added.

Russia, for its part, is ready to provide the UN with all necessary assistance, he also noted.

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AfghanistanAsia & AmericasChinaEurope & RussiaInternational OrganisationsNATONewsPakistanRussiaUNUS
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