Russia to hold post-conflict reconstruction and humanitarian assistance talks with Taliban

Military News Editor

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Last week, Russia's special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said that Russia had invited the U.S. to participate in the talks on October 20th in Moscow, to focus on Afghanistan's post-conflict reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.

The Moscow-format consultations on Afghanistan, launched in 2017, was a six-party mechanism for consultations among representatives from Russia, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, and India. Moscow is looking to redefine those talks and work with Afghanistan in the future.

“A senior delegation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan led by Deputy PM H.E. Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi will attend the upcoming Moscow meeting and meet with representatives of different states to discuss issues of mutual interest.” - — Abdul Qahar Balkhi (@QaharBalkhi) October 15, 2021 TWITTER

The U.S. has declined to join the talks, adding that U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is leaving his post and will be replaced by his deputy Thomas West.

Khalilzad's troubles started long before the Afghanistan withdrawal. A US Congressional House panel has issued a subpoena to the special envoy, demanding an explanation for the failure of US-Taliban talks. Khalilzad also failed even to mention the Taliban's last American hostage in two face-to-face meetings with top leaders, sending Mark Frerichs's family into a fury.

Mark Frerichs, a contractor from Lombard, Illinois, has been held for more than a year by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network. The leader of the Haqqani Network is now a top Taliban-appointed Afghan government official, alongside at least three former Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

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The relationship with the new Afghanistan government will be complicated going forward. Erica Marat, the chair of regional and analytical studies at National Defense University, said Russia would be “really entering a crowded space” in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. There are many countries running counter adgendas trying to find common ground, but also still in an observation mode because there is no level of trust at this point."

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