NEW YORK, Mar 31 (APP): Russia supports the Taliban’s demand for foreign troops to leave Afghanistan, President Vladimir Putin’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan has said, as he criticized agreements that allow U.S. and NATO forces to remain for the long term in the war-torn country.
“Of course it’s justified for the Taliban to oppose the foreign military
presence”, Zamir Kabulov, the envoy, said in an interview in Moscow with Bloomberg, an American financial service.
“Who’s in favour? Name me one neighbouring state that supports it,” he was quoted as saying.
Russia and the U.S. are increasingly at odds over Afghanistan, Bloomberg noted.
Officials in Moscow disclosed at the end of last year that they have
been having contacts with the Taliban that ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, when it was overthrown in a U.S.-led invasion.
U.S. generals have accused Russia of supplying weapons to the Taliban,
which is waging an expanding insurgency against the Afghan government. Moscow has rejected the allegation.
Around 13,000 U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops are
currently in Afghanistan, and the top U.S. commander is pushing for several thousand more to help reverse the course of the war. The U.S. estimates that only 57 percent of Afghanistan is under government control, a 15 percent decrease since November 2015.
In the interview, Kabulov accused the U.S. of sabotaging Russian efforts to help end the Afghan war by boycotting a peace conference on Afghanistan planned for mid-April in Moscow.
He blamed the U.S. decision on a fit of pique that Russia is taking the lead, and suggested that the military establishment in Washington is undermining Trump’s campaign pledge to cooperate with Russia in fighting terrorism.
“The U.S. won’t tell us and others what to do in Afghanistan,” he said.
While some Taliban elements are in a tactical alliance with Islamic State, the bulk of the movement and its leadership is determined to fight the terrorist group, the Russian diplomat said.
This means the Taliban has “common interests” with Russia, Kabulov said.
“They have given up global jihad and have become a national force,” he added.