Russia suggests holding UN conference on Afghanistan

MOSCOW: A Moscow format meeting is scheduled for Oct 20 that will also discuss the possibility of holding a conference on Afghanistan under the auspices of the UN, the Russian foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Addressing a news conference in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan, Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is currently waiting for a response from the invited parties, including the Taliban.

“We hope they realise the importance of this event,” he said. “As for humanitarian assistance, we, together with a number of other countries, want to propose, in particular, during the ‘Moscow format’ meeting, to hold a conference under the auspices of the UN to provide assistance, including humanitarian assistance to this country.”

The Moscow format is a negotiation mechanism established in 2017 to address Afghan issues. It includes Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, and other countries. It held several rounds of talks in Moscow in 2017 and 2018.

The Taliban captured Kabul on Aug 15, forcing the president and other top officials to leave the country. They have formed an interim government headed by Hasan Akhund.

World powers have called on the group to form an inclusive government that is representative of the country’s ethnic diversity.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is hosting a virtual special G20 summit to discuss Afghanistan. He is expected to hold a press conference after the meeting.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged for immediate action in Afghanistan. In a tweet, he said: “The economy of Afghanistan is breaking down. Banks are closing and essential services, such as healthcare, have been suspended in many places. I urge the world to take action and inject liquidity into the Afghan economy to avoid collapse.”

NATO left weapons in Afghanistan:

Earlier in the day, speaking at a meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Lavrov said the US and NATO left a lot of weapons and military equipment in Afghanistan, and it is important to ensure the stockpile is not used for destructive purposes.

The minister urged the Taliban to keep their promises regarding the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism, and called on the US and NATO to take a more responsible position on the issue of Afghan refugees.

“The alliance bypasses its responsibility for the consequences of its 20-year experiments [presence in Afghanistan]. It is proposed that the international community, first of all the neighbours of Afghanistan, address the problems,” Lavrov said.

CICA is an inter-governmental forum for enhancing cooperation in promoting peace, security and stability in Asia. It currently has 27 member states, including Turkey.


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