MOSCOW, March 3. /TASS/. Russia has reiterated to the Taliban it will never accept any monopoly of power in Afghanistan, Russian President’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department, Zamir Kabulov, said on Tuesday.
"We have told the Taliban straight more than once that we accept no monopoly and [are opposed to] the Taliban’s return to power," he stated. "We are not the only ones to say it. Afghanistan’s neighbors — Pakistan and Iran — and also the United States and China share this position."
"Our position is that Afghanistan is to continue as a republic. But it is up to the Afghan people to decide on that and to reach some consensus," he stressed.
‘Afghan four’ meeting
Special envoys of Russia, the US, China and Pakistan for Afghanistan have agreed to meet on the sidelines of the intra-Afghan talks, according to Zamir Kabulov.
"We agreed during the last 3 plus 1 meeting [the US, Russia, China plus Pakistan] in Beijing, that our next meeting would take place back-to-back and on the sidelines of the intra-Afghan talks," he commented.
"We believe that the very fact of cooperation of all the four powerful states — we would also like to be joined by Iran, which has a lot of influence in the region — will have a positive effect on both sides of the talks, so that we could encourage and motivate them for peace," Kabulov revealed.
The last meeting between Russia, the US, China and Pakistan on Afghanistan took place in July 2019.
According to a peace treaty signed between the US and the Taliban movement, the intra-Afghan talks on permanent and comprehensive ceasefire must begin on March 10.
The United States and the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) inked a peace deal on February 29 in Qatar’s capital city, Doha. Under the terms of the deal, Washington and its allies commit to withdrawing their forces from Afghanistan in the next 14 months. The US contingent in that country is to shrink to 8,600 troops in a span of four and a half months after the signing. The US allies are to withdraw their forces proportionally. Apart from that, the United States and its allies are to withdraw troops from five military bases. The rest of the troops are to be withdrawn from Afghanistan in subsequent nine and a half months provided that the Taliban meets its commitments.
The Taliban, in turn, undertakes not to use Afghanistan’s territory to stage actions jeopardizing the United States’ and its allies’ security. Talks between the Taliban and other Afghan parties are to start on March 10. Before that, as a trust-building measure, up to 5,000 Taliban supporters are to be released and the Taliban is to free up to 1,000 people it keeps prisoner.