MOSCOW: The Pakistani partners have confirmed their determination to closely cooperate with Russia both on bilateral issues and on the Afghan settlement, Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan, Russian special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has said.
“We are very satisfied by the recently held substantive consultations,” Kabulov, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department told the Russian TASS news agency in Moscow, following his visit to Pakistan this week.
“The Pakistani partners once again confirmed their determination to closely cooperate with Russia both on bilateral issues and also the Afghan settlement. We discussed a whole number of events happening around Afghanistan,” he said. In particular, the sides hashed over the US delegation’s talks with representatives of the Taliban (outlawed in Russia) in Doha.
However, both Pakistan and Russia are not aware about the results of the US talks with the Taliban, and the comments by US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad “do not give a full picture,” he noted.
“We are determined to play a constructive role in order to contribute to a speedy national reconciliation in Afghanistan and ending the civil war in that country,” Kabulov said. “Russia and Pakistan are also watching together the US efforts to reach an agreement with the Taliban, including on withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. This would be a key step on a long path of establishing peace in Afghanistan,” the diplomat stressed.
Commenting on Pakistan’s role in creating preconditions for holding a meeting between the US representatives and the Taliban, Kabulov noted that the Pakistani leadership is impartially assessing “its role in launching a peace process.”
According to him, the US recently claimed that Pakistan is not providing assistance for the Afghan settlement and threatened to cut financial support. “Now Washington was forced to seek Islamabad’s assistance and it helped,” the diplomat noted.
Pakistan is also playing an active role in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in particular the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, which seeks peace in Afghanistan, Kabulov said.
Speaking on the SCO’s role in the Afghan process, the Russian special envoy said now it’s important for Afghanistan to start actively participating in all SCO’s programs. “The advantage of this organization is that there is no domination of Russia or China. We respect partners regardless of their power, influence and size. Everyone from this region is a member of one big SCO family and we would like the settlement process, which has been launched, to continue,” he noted.
According to Kabulov, the Moscow format of talks on Afghanistan is the best venue to discuss the Afghan settlement issues as it involves all key players, including representatives of Afghanistan. “This format is unique as for the first time the Taliban’s delegation took part together with many representatives of regional states,” he said, noting that this kickstarted the process.
Meanwhile, the Moscow format is not going to rival with other venues for peaceful reconciliation. “Russia’s diplomacy is not setting a task to compete with anyone for the number of meetings. We are men of business in Russia like our partners in the format and we are not planning to meet for the sake of a meeting,” he stressed. “When we and our partners decide to meet and make one more practical step that will bring Afghanistan closer to peace, we will gather, and we are not setting any particular dates, we are determined to achieve a result.”
“Although the Moscow format has a particular goal of launching peaceful reconciliation in Afghanistan, we are inevitably facing a common problem, namely the Islamic State (terror group, outlawed in Russia). At this stage, both Moscow and Islamabad view the IS as a common threat and this is a threat for Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, China and Russia.” “At first, we want to solve one task in the framework of the Moscow format, and then all the others, but we are inevitably facing this IS problem,” he said.—NNI