Russia says does not view Taliban as threat to Central Asia: TASS

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Russia does not view the Taliban in Afghanistan as a threat to Central Asia, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on Monday.

The Afghan government collapsed on Sunday as the Taliban entered Kabul virtually unopposed. The official, Zamir Kabulov, said Moscow had prepared the ground in advance to establish contact with the Taliban.

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Moscow will decide whether to recognize the new Taliban government based on its conduct, the Kremlin envoy on Afghanistan said in an interview Monday.

Zamir Kabulov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that “no one is going to rush” the decision. “Recognition or non-recognition will depend on the conduct of the new authorities,” Kabulov said.

Russia labeled the Taliban a terrorist organization in 2003, but has since hosted several rounds of talks in Afghanistan, most recently in March, that involved the group. Moscow, which fought a 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended with Soviet troops’ withdrawal in 1989, has made a diplomatic comeback as a mediator, reaching out to feuding Afghan factions as it has jockeyed with the US for influence in the country.

Kabulov said Monday the Taliban was “deservedly” declared a terrorist group in Russia two decades ago.

“The Taliban have learned this lesson well. If they haven’t learned it in full, they will have to face great difficulties in relations not only with Russia, but with the entire global community,” Kabulov said.

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