MOSCOW, September 13. /TASS/. The four-party Afghan talks format (USA, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan) has proved a failure, the Russian President’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asia Department Zamir Kabulov said.
"We have talked about it (with the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson - TASS). The participants in the process are eager to save face so they state: "No, we will revive it", but I think that they are just putting up a smoke screen," Kabulov said. "They understand very well that this process is doomed to failure."
"To tell the truth, we didn’t see this as promising from the very beginning so everything has turned out as we expected", Russian diplomat added.
The four-way talks on Afghanistan were aimed at producing a road map for negotiations between Afghan authorities and the Taliban. The format was established at the Heart of Asia conference held in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad in December 2015.
According to Kabulov, resolving the conflict in Afghanistan without Iran’s participation in the process is impossible.
"The US doesn’t seem to succeed in excluding Iran from solving regionals issues, although they very much want to. But the reality is different", Kabulov added.
"Iran is a very important player as far as Afghanistan is concerned", the Russian diplomat went on to say. "I don’t see any prospects for solving the situation in Afghanistan without Iran."
Kabulov went on to say that the United States has begun to perceive the situation in Afghanistan more realistically. However, this approach should be transformed into serious actions, he added following meeting with US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson in Moscow at the beginning of September.
"The degradation of the military-political and economic situation in Afghanistan encourages all external players from among the countries that support Afghanistan to consult actively and try to find common approaches to assist Kabul in the process of survival, calling a spade a spade," he said. "My consultations with Olson were dedicated mainly to this issue."
According to Kabulov, it became clear at this meeting that Washington is taking the situation in Afghanistan more seriously. "While six months ago our US counterparts were more optimistic about the situation in Afghanistan arguing that there are many difficulties, but it is possible to overcome them, this time I was impressed by the fact that the Americans were more realistic, they realize that the situation is at a dangerous point, beyond which there is more chaos," he added.
The diplomat added that "it would be good if this more serious approach was transformed into real actions."
According to Kabulov, the Taliban do not maintain contacts with the Islamic State terrorist group in Afghanistan.
"The Taliban have switched to tackling only internal political issues and have given up the global jihad idea", he explained. "They have bitter experience in dealing with Al-Qaeda which led to adverse consequences so now they refrain from that".
"That is the reason why I think there is no close cooperation between the Taliban and the ultra-hardline international extremists", Kabulov added.
The Russian diplomat also pointed out the diversity of the Taliban. "There are some radical groups, there is the Haqqani Network, for instance, that may be in contact with both the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda," he noted.
Kabulov noted that roughly 2,500 combatants from the Islamic State are active in Afghanistan.
"They now have about 2,500 active militants", he informed."They continue to recruit people and enhance their combat capabilities."
"If they are not restrained then chances are that we will have to face an even more powerful force", Kabulov added.
Earlier in May General Charles Cleveland, a spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, estimated the number of the Islamic State militants active in Afghanistan at one to three thousand. "We think that the number of the terrorists is closer to 1,000", he stated.