Russia disfavours talks with Taliban: Diplomat

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New Delhi, Mar 10: With many western powers not adverse to holding talks with sections of Taliban, Russia has made it clear that it was not in favour of such parleys, asserting that there is no "good or bad" Taliban.

The issue is expected to be discussed threadbare in the upcoming Foreign Office Consultations between India and Russia with the Russians keen to deepen the Af-Pak dialogue with India.

The meeting will also be focussing on the impact and other aspects of the recent announcement by US President Barack Obama to pull out 34,000 troops from the war-torn country.

Strongly disfavouring talks with Taliban, a senior Russian diplomat told PTI, "Russia is against talks with Taliban. We don't understand the theory of good or bad Taliban".

The remarks come at a time when the US and the UK seem to have conceded to Pakistan the lead role in reconciliation with Taliban. Pakistan had released several Taliban detainees, including senior officials, to facilitate peace talks.

Late last year, sections of Taliban had unofficially met with Afghan representatives in Paris. Taliban is in the process of opening up a political office in Qatar.

Last month, Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai had vowed to achieve a peace settlement for Afghanistan within six months, after talks hosted by Britain.

The Russian diplomat said stability in Afghanistan post the troop pull-out was necessary for the region and added that there was a risk of the war-torn country getting polarised on ethnic lines that could eventually help extremists and terrorists.

Afghanistan is scheduled to go for elections next year and hence the transition process has become more complex. Countries like India and Russia would be keenly watching the elections on who will come to power in Kabul. 

Talking about Russian concerns about Afghanistan, the diplomat said, "We are not interested in Taliban moving to Central Asia. Our main concerns about Afghanistan are narcotics production and Taliban".

Russia has about 5 million people who are addicted to drugs and most of the narcotics come from Afghanistan. These issues are likely to be discussed when a team of Indian officials will fly to Russia next week for the Foreign Office Consultations.

"Russia is keen to engage more and cooperate with India for the development of Afghanistan. Progress of the country is important for the region," the diplomat said.

He maintained that even though Russia engages with Pakistan, Moscow will see its relationship with Islamabad "through the sunglasses of India".

Moscow has increased its engagement with Afghanistan in the recent past and is training Afghan troops besides supplying military equipments including helicopters and about 20,000 Kalashnikov rifles.

Russia is also strengthening Afghanistan's anti-drug forces. India, the US and Afghanistan had held a trilateral meeting here last month during which political, security and economic transition in the war-torn country besides specific cooperation projects were in focus.

PTI

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