Moscow format talks on Afghanistan begin

Representatives of 10 countries, Taliban gather in Russian capital to discuss situation in war-torn country.

Moscow format talks on Afghanistan begin

Representatives of 10 countries and the Taliban gathered in the Russian capital on Wednesday to discuss recent developments and the future of Afghanistan.

Opening the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the Moscow format one of “the most demanded” mechanisms on the Afghan settlement.

He regretted the absence of a US representative in the session, and said he hoped it is not because of "some principle problems."

"We regret about the non-participation of our American colleagues ... I hope it doesn’t connect to some principle problems and probably one of the reasons is the change of the US special representative for Afghanistan," Lavrov said.

He said he expects the US will express its readiness to cooperate on the Afghan issue, and join in the steps finalized after the meeting.

The Russian diplomat said their goal is to achieve sustainable peace in Afghanistan, and forming an inclusive government is "a key to success."

He said the absence of international recognition of the Taliban, as well as social and economic problems, and humanitarian challenges have contributed to the unstable situation in Afghanistan, which can be exploited by terrorist and criminal groups.

This could have spillover effects for neighboring countries, he said, adding that he spoke with the Taliban about not letting to use Afghan soil against its Central Asian neighbors.

"We are satisfied with the level of practical interaction with the Afghan authorities, which allows at the current stage to resolve the problems of providing security to Russian citizens living in Afghanistan, unhindered functioning of our embassy in Kabul, as well as the embassies of other countries," he said.

He thanked the Taliban for assistance in organizing the evacuation of Russian citizens, and ensuring the necessary conditions for Russian journalists to conduct their duties in Afghanistan.

The time has come for the international community to provide Afghanistan considerable financial, economic and humanitarian assistance to avoid a humanitarian crisis and a new wave of emigration, he said.

Besides the host country Russia, representatives of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Iran, Pakistan, China, Turkmenistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan are participating in the meeting. They are expected to adopt a joint statement after the session.