In a meeting with his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani on Tuesday, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said his country is willing to cooperate with Afghanistan on a wide range of issues including economic cooperation and to boost Afghanistan’s fragile security climate.
“Russia and Afghanistan are old-time and close partners, and are interested in cooperation in security, humanitarian and economic areas,” Lavrov said.
“We support efforts of Afghanistan’s leadership in stabilizing the situation in the country and in the war on terror,” Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Lavrov on Tuesday as saying.
He said that Moscow is satisfied by the “level of political dialogue” with Afghanistan and cooperation in the United Nations, Lavrov said.
The Russian foreign minister also expressed condolences to the victims of avalanches in Afghanistan over the weakened.
Rabbani thanked Lavrov for offering condolences, noting that Afghanistan’s authorities are making every effort to reduce the aftermath of the disaster.
“This trip is important, we call for developing our relations. We have many topics for discussion, in particular, the fight against terrorism,” Rabbani said.
On the peace process in Afghanistan, Lavrov said that an international meeting on Afghanistan with the participation of Russia, Pakistan, Iran and India will be held in February.
“We have a common understanding that there is the need to boost efforts (for reconciliation in Afghanistan). In this context, we confirmed the invitation for the Afghan colleagues for another meeting on Afghanistan’s settlement due in mid-February in Moscow, with participation of representatives of Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Iran and India,” Lavrov said.
“We expect that all partners will be represented at a high level, and most of them have already confirmed their participation,” he said.
According to Lavrov, Russia supports the idea of bringing back the Taliban insurgents to the peace table on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions.
“We have confirmed our common stance that Taliban should be involved in a constructive dialogue in keeping with the criteria contained in the UN Security Council resolutions,” Lavrov said.
On Russia’s military support to Afghanistan, Lavrov said that his country is prepared to continue providing aid to Afghanistan in supplying and repairing the military equipment of the Afghan security forces.
Rabbani’s trip to Moscow takes place at a time that the Russian officials have already confirmed Moscow’s contacts with the Afghan Taliban who are fighting the Afghan government.
Following reports in the media about a Taliban-Russia thaw, the Afghan government raised concerns over such moves with the Taliban group.
Russia which claims to be concerned about the expansion of Daesh operatives in Afghanistan has argued that the meeting with the Taliban was to combat Daesh in Afghanistan.
Back in December, a trilateral meeting between representatives of Russia, China and Pakistan was held in Moscow where they discussed the ongoing conflict. However the Afghan government was upset for not being invited to the meeting.