11 March 2017

News Report: Moscow Reveals Its Aims in Contacts With Outlawed Taliban in Afghanistan

Groundlessly accusing Moscow of allegedly supporting the Taliban is an attempt to divert attention from the numerous mistakes made by other foreign actors in the Asian country, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Moscow explained what kind of contacts it has with the Taliban.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Accusations of Russian support of the Taliban militant Islamist movement in Afghanistan (banned in Russia) through arms supplies are absurd, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.

The ministry said that its attention was drawn to the accusations against Russia made recently by the representatives of the command of foreign military contingents stationed in Afghanistan, as well as by some Afghan officials about the alleged support of the Taliban movement by Moscow.

"The Russian side is being charged with the supply of weapons of war, financing the activities of this extremist organization and even assisting in the establishment of training camps for militants on the Afghan territory. Needless to say, all these accusations are not supported by any evidence," the ministry said in a statement on its website.

The ministry stressed that the allegations were a part of anti-Russian smear campaign.

"The distribution of such absurd inventions revealed a staged campaign to discredit our country, during which the Afghan and world community is thrown the thesis of Russia 'undermining' international anti-terrorist efforts in Afghanistan," the ministry said in a statement on its website.

It maintained that the aim of the campaign is to "divert attention from accountability for the numerous mistakes made in more than 16 years of foreign military presence in Afghanistan."

Some Afghan media outlets have circulated reports, citing police in Afghan province of Kunduz, alleging the construction of a training base for Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan by Russia. On March 2, the Russian Foreign Ministry refuted these reports and described them as "unhealthy fantasies".

Moscow's aim in contacts with the fundamentalist Taliban movement in Afghanistan is to encourage its members to join national reconciliation efforts and ensure the safety of Russian citizens, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"The limited contacts with The Taliban Movement (banned in Russia) are subject to the task of ensuring the safety of Russian citizens in Afghanistan and are aimed at encouraging The Taliban Movement to join the national reconciliation process under the leadership of Kabul," the ministry said in a statement on its website.

The ministry pointed to 2015 meetings between Afghan officials' meetings with Taliban in Qatar in maintaining that contacts with the Islamist movement "hardly 'legitimize' the Talibs."

Russia has decided to intensify its effort to work out a single approach to national reconciliation and the creation of conditions for direct talks between Kabul and Taliban so that the military activities in Afghanistan cease.

"In this relation, Moscow decided to intensify its efforts to work out a single regional approach to promote the process of national reconciliation and create favourable conditions to establish direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement," the ministry said.

Afghanistan is in a state of political and social turmoil, with government forces fighting the continuing Taliban insurgency. The instability has persisted in the country since the 2001 US-led invasion to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

The lack of control and instability turned the country into home to the largest opium poppy production and distribution network in the world.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.