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Russia to take part in Brussels conference on Afghanistan — diplomat

The key task is to pass a decision on further economic assistance to Afghanistan, a Russian diplomat says

MOSCOW, September 30. /TASS/. Russia will take part in the European Union’s conference on Afghanistan due to be held in Brussels on October 4-5 but it already has mechanisms of cooperation with Kabul, a high-ranking Russian diplomat said on Friday.

"The key task is to take part in the conference which is expected to pass a decision on further economic assistance to Afghanistan in the next four years," Zamir Kabulov, Russian president’s special envoy for Afghanistan and director of the Russian foreign ministry’s second Asia department, said.

He noted however that Moscow has its mechanisms of cooperation with Afghanistan in the economic sphere. "As a rule, we are working on a bilateral basis or via specialized institutions of the United Nations," he said, adding that Russia is not planning to come out with any concrete initiatives at the conference.

The European Union and the Afghan government will hold a conference in Brussels on October 4-5, 2016. It will be attended by representatives of more than 70 countries and 20 international organizations and agencies.

The conference is to endorse a program of reforms for Afghanistan and ensure further international political and financial support to political and economic stability and development in that country in the next four years. The European Union will be represented, among others, by President of the European Council Donald Tusk and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Afghanistan will be represented by President Ashraf Ghani.

Kabulov said that the agreement reached by Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani and the Hezb-i-Islami party leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is a positive step but it will not influence the military and political situation in the country.

"Basically, this is a positive but mostly symbolic step because the Hezb-i-Islami party is not an important player as far as the military confrontation in Afghanistan is concerned," he said. "If this agreement really puts an end to the confrontation between this group and the Afghan government, then it is a positive point. But we must realize that the agreement is not going to influence the military and political balance of power in Afghanistan."

On September 29, Ashraf Ghani signed a peace agreement with one of the biggest groups of the armed opposition. According to Afghanistan’s TOLOnews TV company, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had signed the agreement on Wednesday, September 28. The draft agreement had been approved by the parties’ delegations on September 22 during negotiations in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul.

During the military and political presence of the USSR in Afghanistan Hekmatyar-led militants took an active part in fighting the pro-Soviet government. At present, his militant factions constitute the second (after the Taliban) largest armed group of the Afghan opposition