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Russia supports dialogue in Afghanistan amid resistance in Panjshir — Lavrov

The Russian top diplomat noted that the Taliban movement has not yet taken full control of all Afghanistan

MOSCOW, August 19. /TASS/. Moscow advocates a nationwide dialogue among all opposing groups in Afghanistan against the background of reports of the resistance to the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) in Panjshir, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference on Thursday. 

The Russian top diplomat noted that the Taliban movement has not yet taken full control of all Afghanistan. "There are reports on the situation in the Panjshir Gorge where the resistance forces of Afghanistan’s Vice President Mr. [Amrullah] Saleh and Ahmad Massoud are concentrated. But that only makes our position more consistent: and in a situation where all of Afghanistan was engulfed in civil war, we supported the necessity of an immediate transition to national dialogue with the participation of all opposing Afghan forces, of all ethno-religious Afghan groups, just like now, when the Taliban essentially took power in Kabul, in the majority of other cities, in the majority of Afghanistan’s provinces; we still support the same, national dialogue which will make it possible to shape a representative government and then it, together with the support of the people of Afghanistan, will develop agreements on a final settlement for this long-suffering country," he said.

Lavrov also noted that Moscow reaffirmed its consistent policy aimed at creating conditions for facilitating the nationwide dialogue in Afghanistan. "I am certain that the Moscow consultations have the greatest prospects, because the situation has acquired a regional dimension, drawing a response from both the neighboring countries and the countries located farther away from Afghanistan," he said. "We make no official proposals for the time being, but the effectiveness of this group of support for the Afghan talks has always been recognized by all, and we will be prepared to resume the operation of this platform, if it is found feasible."

According to Russia’s top diplomat, Russia "welcomed the Taliban’s statement" on their willingness to engage in a dialogue with other political actors in Afghanistan. He noted that a meeting had been announced with the participation of Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and leader of Afghanistan’s Islamic Party Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. "We proceed from the premise that all members of that group said they were willing to meet and reach an agreement in the interests of the Afghan people. We will encourage such developments in every possible way and make sure that these intentions are translated into specific steps," he stressed.

After the US announced the end of its operation in Afghanistan and the beginning of its troop withdrawal, the Taliban launched an offensive against government forces. On August 15, Taliban fighters entered Kabul without encountering any resistance, establishing full control over the Afghan capital within a few hours. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he had stepped down to prevent any bloodshed and subsequently fled the country. At present, Western nations are evacuating their citizens and embassy staff.

On February 14, 2003, the Russian Supreme Court declared the Taliban to be a terrorist organization and its activities are outlawed nationwide.