Russia, hosting Taliban at international conference, calls for Afghan aid
Russia called yesterday for international aid to support Kabul, as it hosted the Taliban at a major international conference on Afghanistan for the first time since the group regained power in August.
Pakistan, China, Iran, India and former Soviet Central Asian states joined Taliban officials at the Moscow meeting. But the United States stayed away, citing technical reasons, while saying that it could attend such talks in the future.
"We are convinced that it is time to mobilize the resources of the international community to provide Kabul with effective financial humanitarian support, including to prevent a humanitarian crisis and reduce migration flows," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters before the meeting.
Russia's initiative in hosting the talks is part of an effort to boost its influence in the region after the United States withdrew its forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban took control of the country. Lavrov said he regretted the absence of the United States from the talks.
Moscow is mainly concerned about the risk of instability in Central Asia, and possible migrant flows and Islamist militant activity directed from Afghanistan.
"We call on the Taliban movement – and we discussed this with their distinguished delegation – to prevent the use of Afghanistan's territory against third countries, most importantly neighbors," Lavrov said.
Russia fought its own disastrous war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
And it has close military and political ties with former Soviet Central Asian states that border Afghanistan.
In his speech, Lavrov struck a noticeably conciliatory tone towards the Taliban government, which is still seeking international diplomatic legitimacy that would bolster its calls to unfreeze assets held in the West and let aid flow.