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Lavrov expands on current situation in Afghanistan, Taliban and UNSC demands

President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani has once again confirmed the idea to engage the Taliban in the talks, Lavrov reiterated

TASHKENT, March 27. /TASS/. Moscow calls for cooperation with Washington to launch a direct dialogue between Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Tuesday.

Russia and the United States, jointly with the Afghan government, using the potential of other players which may influence the sides in Afghanistan, should "help the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban as a leading opposition force to sit down at the negotiating table and start solving their problems directly, without taking advantage of contradictions of foreign players," Lavrov said.

Taliban and the UNSC 

If the Taliban agree to sit at the negotiating table, it will mean they are ready to accept the UN Security Council’s demands concerning ways to resolve the Afghan issue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"I would like to point out that the decisions the United Nations Security Council made earlier are still in effect, they particularly call on the Taliban to sit at the negotiating table, recognize the Afghan Constitution, cut their ties with terrorists and abandon attempts to resolve the Afghan issue through the use of force," the Russian top diplomat said. "I believe that if the Taliban sit at the negotiating table it will mean they are ready to follow this course," he added.

Lavrov also said that "President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani has once again confirmed the idea to engage the Taliban in talks," as he had openly spoken in favor of "unconditional talks with the Taliban."

"As for their involvement in terrorist activities, the issue still remains," the Russian foreign minister noted. "Not so long ago, just the other day, they blew up a power line, leaving a large part of Afghanistan without electricity for two days," he added.

"In this regard, it is important to normalize the situation in order to tackle Afghanistan’s economic issues, while attempted acts of sabotage only frighten off investors. We have seen dialogue and joint constructive work that may encourage companies from other countries to invest in Afghanistan without fearing for their money," Lavrof stressed.

Russia's proposal 

Washington has not yet replied to Moscow’s proposal for entering into a fundamental dialogue on Afghanistan, Lavrov told the media.

"Regrettably, for the time being our proposals for starting a serious discussion over Afghanistan have drawn no response from Washington," he said.

He pointed out that Russia regarded the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan as the optimal one for promoting intra-Afghan reconciliation. Lavrov believes that the United States refused to participate in the Moscow format for "purely politicized reasons, because this format is seen as Russia’s initiative."

"We are for Russia, the United States and the government of Afghanistan, acting with reliance on the potential of other actors capable of influencing the Afghan parties, to help the Afghan government and the Taliban as the leading opposition force to come to the negotiating table and start resolving their problems directly, without playing on disagreements among external actors," Lavrov said.

In the end of February Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani in his statement at the opening of the second international conference Kabul Process came out for a dialog with the Taliban. He proposed talks without any preconditions. Also, he declared the readiness to recognize the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) as a legitimate political force and to open its official mission in Kabul.

Taking part in the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan are Afghanistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The latest round of consultations was in April last year.