Russia urges Afghan leaders to start peace talks

by Sami Burgaz
Russian foreign minister calls for nationwide dialogue on forming representative government.

MOSCOW (AA) – Russia urged Afghan leaders on Thursday to start peace negotiations amid rising resistance in the northeast of the country after the Taliban took control of the capital Kabul on Aug. 15.

The Taliban do not control all of Afghanistan’s territory, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underlined in a press conference in Moscow following a meeting with his Libyan counterpart Najla Mangoush.

Amrullah Saleh, who had served as vice president in the administration of former President Ashraf Ghani, and Ahmad Massoud, son of slain Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, are gathering forces in the Panjshir Valley to oppose the Taliban rule, said Lavrov.

Amid continuing confrontation, the best solution is starting the peace negotiations, he added.

“In a situation when the whole of Afghanistan was engulfed in civil war, we advocated for the need for an urgent transition to a nationwide dialogue with the participation of all opposing Afghan forces, all ethnic and religious groups of Afghanistan. Now, when the Taliban have taken power in Kabul, we call for a nationwide dialogue that will allow the formation of a representative government,” Lavrov said.

He praised the Moscow format of talks on Afghanistan, saying Russia was ready to call a meeting if necessary to help the Afghan sides start a dialogue.

Lavrov also welcomed an upcoming meeting between the Taliban and prominent Afghan politicians who expressed their readiness to seek a mutually acceptable arrangement.

“All invitees (to the meeting) have shown their desire to negotiate. We will strive to ensure that intentions turn into concrete actions,” he said.

The Taliban on Sunday took control of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, with President Ashraf Ghani and other key officials fleeing the country.

Russia praises Libyan peace process

Commenting on the situation in Libya, Lavrov praised the steps taken by the sides in Libya for national reconciliation.

For her part, Libya’s Mangoush said her country considers the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Libya as one of the top priorities and counts on Russia’s help in holding international consultations on the issue.

Lavrov added that Mangoush informed him that the Libyan government started working out a consultative process for pulling out foreign military forces.

The diplomat stressed that the withdrawal must be gradual and simultaneous in order to avoid creating a military advantage for any side.

“We will be ready to participate constructively together with other countries in this work,” he said.

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

On Feb. 5, Libya’s rival political groups agreed during UN-mediated talks to form an interim unity government to lead the country to elections.

On March 16, an elected transitional authority made up of a unity government and a presidential council, assumed duties to lead the country through a transitional phase to parliamentary and presidential elections slated for Dec. 24.


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