Russia regrets Iran’s absence in meetings on Afghan peace process

by Sami Burgaz
Russian presidential envoy says differences with US prevent Iran from taking part in Troika Plus meetings on Afghanistan.

MOSCOW (AA) – The Russian presidential envoy for Afghanistan regretted on Tuesday Iran’s absence in meetings of Troika Plus (China, Russia, the US, and Pakistan) on Afghanistan.

Speaking at a meeting at the Moscow-based think tank Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund, Zamir Kabulov said Iran was suggested to be the fifth participant of the Troika Plus, but because of the differences between Washington and Tehran, the latter refuses to take part in work of any format with the participation of the US.

“We regret it because we really lack Iran as a partner at this stage when it is important for us, together with Pakistanis, Chinese, and Americans, to move the process of political regulation in Afghanistan from the dead point,” Kabulov said.

Kabulov added that personally, he considered Iran and Pakistan the most important and influential players in the Afghan peace process.

He also said he does not expect further talks on the Afghan settlement to go smoothly, adding that real diplomacy is not based on emotions but rather on interests and opportunities.

According to the diplomat, about two-thirds of the Taliban believe that they will be able to achieve more through intra-Afghan negotiations than through military operations.

The Taliban does not pose any threat to the Central Asian states, the movement never attempted to violate, cross, or threaten the border of Afghanistan’s northern neighbor, Kabulov noted.

“The Taliban movement shows not only in words but also in deeds that they are engaged in purely internal political tasks. Yes, they are fighting with the current Afghan government for influence in the country, seizing control over a number of counties, trying to put provinces under their control — with many of these counties and provinces just happened to be along the Afghan border with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

“But there is not a single fact that the Taliban tried to cross these borders, violate them, and threaten their northern neighbors,” he said.

Kabulov also praised the Taliban’s fight in the north of Afghanistan against the Daesh/ISIS terror group that poses threats to Russia and its allies. He called reports about the Taliban’s connections with the al-Qaeda as “rumors.”

He also put responsibility for the current escalation of the situation in Afghanistan on the US and its allies, saying that instead of helping to restore a normal, neutral country, they decided to take advantage of the situation and create an extensive network of military bases, vexing the neighboring countries, including Russia.

“The second mistake, which I consider strategic, is that the Americans, instead of simply helping Afghanistan develop its state institutions and an economy based on Afghan traditions, engaged in democratization, imposing their own ideas about democracy, and (eventually) failed,” he said.

Since the announcement of the US withdrawal plan in May, the Taliban claimed to have captured over 150 districts in Afghanistan, while Afghan forces say they are killing up to 200 insurgents daily.


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