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Russia: In Sync With Others on Taliban 09/26 10:42

   

   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Russia, China, Pakistan and the United States are 
working together to ensure that Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers keep their 
promises, especially to form a genuinely representative government and prevent 
extremism from spreading, Russia's foreign minister said Saturday.

   Sergey Lavrov said the four countries are in ongoing contact. He said 
representatives from Russia, China and Pakistan recently traveled to Qatar and 
then to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, to engage with both the Taliban and 
representatives of "secular authorities" -- former president Hamid Karzai and 
Abdullah Abdullah, who headed the ousted government's negotiating council with 
the Taliban.

   Lavrov said the interim government announced by the Taliban does not reflect 
"the whole gamut of Afghan society -- ethno-religious and political forces -- 
so we are engaging in contacts. They are ongoing."

   The Taliban have promised an inclusive government, a more moderate form of 
Islamic rule than when they last ruled the country from 1996 to 2001 including 
respecting women's rights, providing stability after 20 years of war, fighting 
terrorism and extremism and stopping militants from using their territory to 
launch attacks. But recent moves suggest they may be returning to more 
repressive policies, particularly toward women and girls.

   "What's most important ... is to ensure that the promises that they have 
proclaimed publicly to be kept," Lavrov said. "And for us, that is the top 
priority."

   At a wide-ranging news conference and in his speech afterward at the U.N. 
General Assembly, Lavrov criticized the Biden administration including for its 
hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan.

   He said the U.S. and NATO pullout "was carried out out without any 
consideration of the consequences ... that there are many weapons left in 
Afghanistan." It remains critical, he said, that such weapons aren't used for 
"destructive purposes."

   Later, in his assembly speech, Lavrov accused the United States and its 
Western allies of "persistent attempts to diminish the U.N.'s role in resolving 
the key problems of today or to sideline it or to make it a malleable tool for 
promoting someone's selfish interests."

   As examples, Lavrov said Germany and France recently announced the creation 
of an Alliance For Multilateralism "even though what kind of structure could be 
more multilateral than the United Nations?"

   The United States is also sidestepping the U.N., he said, pointing to the 
recent U.S. announcement of a "Summit for Democracy" despite, Lavrov said, U.S. 
President Joe Biden's pledge this week "that the U.S. is not seeking a world 
divided into opposing blocs."

   "It goes without saying that Washington is going to choose the participants 
by itself, thus hijacking the right to decide to what degree a country meets 
the standards of democracy," Lavrov said. "Essentially, this initiative is 
quite in the spirit of a Cold War, as it declares a new ideological crusade 
against all dissenters."

   Lavrov was asked for Russia's reaction to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio 
Guterres' warning last week that the world could be plunged into a new Cold War 
potentially more dangerous than the lengthy one between the U.S. and the former 
Soviet Union unless the United States and China repair their "totally 
dysfunctional" relationship.

   He replied: "Of course, we see the tension tightening in relations between 
China and the United States." He expressed "great concern" at the rising 
tensions, pointing to the Biden administration's recently proclaimed 
Indo-Pacific strategy -- whose objectives, he said, include "deterring China's 
development," disputes over the South China Sea, and the recent U.S.-Britain 
deal to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

   More broadly, Lavrov said, relations among the big powers must be 
"respectful." He emphasized that Russia was "keen to ensure that never will 
these relations morph into nuclear war."

   The major powers have a "great responsibility," he said, to negotiate and 
make compromises on the critical issues facing the world and that Russia is now 
"revitalizing" its proposal for a summit of the five permanent members of the 
U.N. Security Council -- Russia, China, U.S., UK and France. He said 
discussions are under way on specific questions for an agenda, and "we may 
perhaps begin with an online meeting."

   On other global issues, the United States has been pressing for Iran to 
resume nuclear negotiations, but Lavrov said it was then-President Donald Trump 
who pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement, so to declare that "time is 
running out, anybody could say this -- but not Washington."

   In his first speech to the General Assembly earlier this week, new Iranian 
President Ebrahim Raisi criticized the United States but appeared not to rule 
out a return to the negotiating table for the nuclear accord, saying Iran 
considers talks useful if their ultimate outcome is the lifting of all 
sanctions. Still, he stated: "We don't trust the promises made by the U.S. 
government."

   Lavrov said Russia would like to see the resumption of negotiations to 
restore the original agreement as soon as possible. "We have a very serious 
hope -- and I think this is well-founded optimism -- that we will achieve 
results," he said, because "this is something everybody wants."

 
 
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