Russia in contact with Afghan Taliban, favours dialogue: Foreign Minister

Russia in contact with Afghan Taliban, favours dialogue: Foreign Minister

NEW DELHI - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at an event in India on Monday said an inclusive political dialogue for peace in Afghanistan should include the Taliban and other regional countries, the Hindu reported.

Lavrov said Russia had contacted the militant group to sit down for negotiations.

Addressing a gathering at a think-tank event in India, 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 Lavrov urging for a broad-based discussion covering all sides from the region and Central Asia.

He also slammed reported US 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 ,” he said.

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,” he added.

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