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Russia urges US to clarify its stance on contacts with Taliban without preconditions

Lavrov has also commented on the new strategy on Afghanistan announced by Washington
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov  Mikhail Pochuev/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
© Mikhail Pochuev/TASS

MOSCOW, August 24. /TASS/. Russia hopes it will be possible to clarify Washington’s stance on the possibility of contacts with the Taliban without any preconditions during the contacts with the US on Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

"We noted that this new US strategy [on Afghanistan] specifies the White House’s stance on relations with the Taliban, which is quite interesting," he said. "A reminder that to date, we have said that our contacts with the Taliban stemmed from two factors, firstly, resolving practical issues the security of our citizens and missions in Afghanistan depends on and, secondly, prompting the Taliban to maintain dialogue with the official authorities on the basis of the criteria set by the UN Security Council."

Lavrov noted that the UN Security Council, with the consent from the Afghan government, ruled that, if the Taliban meets three requirements, namely, severs ties with terrorists, stops the armed struggle and confirms respect for Afghanistan’s Constitution, it will have the right to sit down at the negotiating table. "On the basis of these criteria, we maintain contacts with the Taliban trying to persuade them to agree to these requirements of the UN Security Council," the Russian minister noted.

"If I got the new US strategy right, they admit contacts with the Taliban without fulfilling any conditions by them. I do not think this is in line with our common interest to abide by the agreed line, which has been endorsed by the UN. I hope, however, that we will be able to clarify this seeming contradiction during contacts with our US counterparts at the expert level," he said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier said dwelling on the new US strategy in Afghanistan that Washington is ready to back peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement without any preconditions.

Washington's strategy on Afghanistan 

Sergey Lavrov believes that the use of force in settling the Afghan crisis is self-defeating:

"The new strategy proclaimed by Washington focuses on the use of power methods," Russia's top diplomat noted. "We are confident that this is path is futile." 

On Monday US President Donald Trump proclaimed a new American strategy on Afghanistan. From now on, Washington will not report on the number of its military in this country or announce plans for the start or end of military operations there.