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Russia is ready to help the US withdraw troops from Afghanistan

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Russia expressed a desire to assist in monitoring the conclusion of a deal between the United States and the Taliban, which will allow the Pentagon to withdraw troops from this country and end the longest war in its history.

At a time when the ninth round of talks was taking place in Doha, the capital of Qatar, with the participation of special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representative Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, said on Wednesday that Moscow’s participation as a “guarantor of this agreement” is “possible” if it “receives an appropriate request from the parties involved in the negotiations.”

Taliban spokesman Suheil Shahin, who previously said that officials from Russia, China and the UN will be present at the time of the announcement of any deal, said on Wednesday on his Twitter page: “The talks will continue today, and we are close to reach a final agreement. We hope to bring good news to our Muslim and peaceful people.”

Before that, on Tuesday, Zakharova expressed skepticism that the Trump administration would be able to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, and posted such a message on its Facebook page: “What? And as fast as last time, or from Syria? ”As you know, the US President in December announced his desire to withdraw troops from both of these countries.

The beginning of the current conflict in Afghanistan is connected with the international clash in the past between Washington and Moscow. The Soviet armed forces then supported the communist government in its fight against Mujahideen insurgents, who in the 1980s were assisted by the CIA and Islamic groups such as Al-Qaeda *. When the militias participating in the battles captured Kabul, the Taliban were the most influential and remained so for ten years, fighting off the Northern Alliance, which was supported by Russia, Iran, India, Turkey and other countries.

The United States led the international intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 attack by al-Qaeda, and the Taliban have been accused of providing a safe haven for its militants. This was the beginning of the Pentagon’s “war on terror”, which has been ongoing for 18 years, the war against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and later the war against the Islamic State *. This war began in Afghanistan, and then spread to other states of the region and for its redistribution.

Since President Trump became the third American leader in Afghanistan in 2017, he has expressed interest in ending this conflict, and Khalilzad began negotiations with the Taliban in October [2018]. The following month, Russia organized its own dialogue between rebel groups and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan.

However, in both cases, the Taliban refused to meet with the government in Kabul, which its leaders consider illegal. Senior Pentagon officials in an interview with Newsweek magazine reported that the United States could withdraw thousands of soldiers in exchange for supporting the internal Afghan peace deal, which Washington believes should be concluded before September and before the Taliban’s election “Is going to interfere.

Earlier this month, the chances of success were high after both sides were close to closing the deal at the end of the last round of negotiations, but Khalilzad returned to Doha last week to “discuss and close the remaining issues.” After that, he tried to dispel some speculation about a possible agreement and wrote on his Twitter page: “We did not negotiate an interim government.” And on Monday, he said there that the United States is “protecting the Afghan armed forces now and will do so after any agreement has been reached” with the Taliban.

Moscow also supports the Afghan government, but it rejected Washington’s allegations of arms supplies to the Taliban, as Russia, together with the United States and China, worked to ensure security in the region. At a press conference in the presence of his Indian counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that “I would like to connect other countries, including India, Pakistan, Iran.”

As Sergey Lavrov noted, any agreement in Afghanistan should contribute to such a decision, which would “rely on a national consensus and exclude the threat of terrorism, extremism and the drug business.” At the same time, Russia, according to the Russian minister, will continue to “provide assistance in equipping the Afghan army and the Afghan security forces,” since so far “they are not yet able to act independently to eradicate the terrorist threat, so such efforts should continue.”

“Of course, the fight against terrorism should be conducted without any“ double standards, ”Lavrov added.

“For a number of reasons, including the wars unleashed by the USA and its allies in Iraq, Libya and Syria, the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) is already spreading to other countries, including Afghanistan, where the Ishilovites are trying to“ dig in ”on in the north and create a bridgehead there for projecting our activities on our allies in Central Asia, ”said Sergey Lavrov. He also criticized his “Western colleagues, who are showing” double standards “in relation to this terrorist group banned by the UN Security Council, trying to use them to achieve unilateral geopolitical tasks in Afghanistan.”

At the first Pentagon press briefing in May, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Joseph Dunford, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to talk about progress in US-Taliban negotiations on Tuesday, but Dunford called talk of a withdrawal troops premature. In his opinion, the focus should be on “conducting an Afghan dialogue, which ideally should lead the Afghan people to peace and stability,” and “Afghanistan is not a shelter where we can be attacked.”

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