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Russia says US pullout won’t create power vacuum in Afghanistan

AT Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Russia believes there would be no power vacuum in Afghanistan after the US withdraw its troops from the war-stricken country, and the Taliban—an extremist group where US currently engaged in peace talks with its representatives, can be trusted as an allay to fight Daesh terrorist outfit.

Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s Afghanistan envoy told this while briefing reporters in Moscow on Tuesday.

Bloomberg reported that Kabulov says if the US fails to strike an agreement on a military pullout with Taliban, “they could stay for another few years but in the end, they’ll have to go, and this time in disgrace.”

US President Donald Trump said Feb. 5 that he’ll reduce the 14,000-strong American military presence in Afghanistan, adding that officials are having “constructive talks” with the Taliban and other Afghan groups. 

Among US demands is a commitment by the Taliban to stop terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and Daesh from continuing to use Afghanistan as a base of operations. 

Last week, Russia hosted talks between the Taliban and a large team of Afghan politicians. The Taliban said it’s seeking the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan within months. 

Kabulov described the meeting as the “start of national reconciliation”, where the Soviet Union fought a decade-long war before completing a humiliating withdrawal in 1989.

Kabulov said: “There won’t be a vacuum in Afghanistan.”

“When all Afghans, the authorities in Kabul and the Taliban, reach a peace agreement and won’t fight each other, then they’ll deal with ISIS (Daesh) in an Afghan manner,” Kabulov said.

In the meantime, Russia’s TASS news agency reported that Kabulov will hold a meeting with US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in Ankara on February 22.  

They will discuss preparations for the next round of the Moscow consultations on Afghanistan, according to Kabulov. 

The Russian envoy added that he will also hold consultations on the Afghan issue with Turkish diplomats.

Russia would like representatives of the Taliban movement to take part in the presidential election in Afghanistan, he said. 

Moscow also believes that time is ripe for lifting the UN Security Council’s sanctions on the Taliban and is ready to contribute to their removal if all 15 member states reach a consensus, Kabulov said.

Khalilzad, who is on a six-nation trip to discuss the Afghan peace process said Tuesday while meeting with EU and NATO partners in Brussels that their shared purpose is to reach a peace agreement and not a withdrawal agreement.

“Our shared purpose is to reach a peace agreement (not a withdrawal agreement) that is worthy of the sacrifices made over decades of war,” Khalilzad tweeted. 

Khalilzad said in a tweet he met with EU and NATO partners in Brussels and was encouraged by their strong endorsement on the progress they have made regarding the peace process so far. 

“We went into Afghanistan together, and together we will determine our future posture, based on conditions we determine with Afghans. We also agreed that jumpstarting the intra-Afghan dialogue is an immediate priority,” Khalilzad tweeted.

Khalilzad is leading an interagency delegation to Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Pakistan from February 10 – 28, US State Department said in a statement on Sunday.

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