Afghanistan: prospects for recognition of Taliban and further cooperation

11:21 06.06.2024 • Tiana Diurovich , correspondent of the International Affairs

On June 4, Russian Presidential Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov held a briefing on the current state of Russia-Afghanistan relations. The agenda of the meeting focused on the proposal to exclude the Taliban Movement (banned in Russia) from the blacklist of prohibited organizations and establish Russia-Afghanistan cooperation in various areas.

Commenting on reports that the Russian foreign and justice ministers had proposed excluding Taliban from the blacklist of terrorist organizations, Kabulov pointed out that the entire procedure was “not as fast-running as it could seem”. “The process was launched two years ago, we deal with the president’s decree, before we can make any amendments to this document, we must carry out an extensive coordinating procedure, not only with the Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Justice, but also with a whole range of other related agencies”, - the diplomat said, emphasizing that the issue had mainly been considered by the lawyers, who aimed to provide a legal foundation for the possibility of excluding Taliban from the blacklist from the point of view of the Russian legislation. Now, Kabulov said, the proposal is waiting to be approved by the president.

As for the conditions the Russian side cites as necessary for the recognition of the government of Afghanistan (inclusive government, stoppage of drug trafficking, compliance with human rights etc. – editor), the diplomat underscored that the incumbent authorities “are controlling the territory of the country and are its sovereign authorities”. “We do not approve of their attitude to education, employment for women, and we would like this issue to be settled along the lines we and many other countries see it. But since we stated earlier that we deal with sovereign authorities, we must take into account their sovereign right as well”, - Kabulov said. He pointed out that “guided by the principle of non-interference in sovereign affairs”, Russia will not put forward any conditions, it outlines its wishes.

The diplomat also remarked that the exclusion of Taliban from the list of terrorist organizations would send a signal to the Russian business. “Nowadays, I think it is impossible for any country to guarantee security (in business – editor), even those who claim that they have everything under control cannot guarantee that. An absolute guarantee is not possible, but a relative guarantee does exist. What is important is the extent of this relativity”, - Kabulov said.

“We want this nervous anxiety to go and we want Russian businesses , and may be those of other countries, to feel more confident and secure in entering into trade and economic relations with Afghanistan and to pursue their interests”, - the diplomat explained.

Kabulov outlined the possibility of connecting Afghanistan to the North-South transport corridor. “The North-South corridor is being laid across the territory of Iran and Afghanistan can easily join it. The more so since Iran and India have done a lot to modernize the port of Chabahar in Iran, which is located on the Arabian Sea and from which leads the way to Afghanistan”, - he diplomat pointed out.

He emphasized that the idea of Russian business participating in mining projects in Afghanistan should be re-addressed to related companies and agencies. Still, Kabulov said, the country abounds in natural resources. “Copper is the first thing that comes to mind. It is the largest iron ore deposit, with a high content of iron. Also, lithium. All these industries and their progress depend on a whole range of necessary conditions: road, electricity, personnel.  But these issues are all solvable, A suppose”, - the diplomat said. The most challenging issue of the Afghan mining industry, Kabulov said, is the deficit of water, which is required for ore enrichment.

In April, the diplomat said, there were discussions in preparation for the 3rd meeting of special envoys to Afghanistan and the UN secretary-general in Doha, due to take place from June 30 to Jule 1, 2024. “But in the run-up to the Doha conference the so-called Moscow-format Contact Group will gather in Tehran on Saturday (June 8 – editor). The Group members include representatives of Russia, Iran, China, Pakistan, who will meet to discuss preparations for the Doha meeting. From what I know, the Iranian partners will invite to Tehran the Minister  of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan (Amir Khan – editor) Muttaqi”, - Kabulov recounted, adding that in the course of the meeting the participants will elaborate the agenda and will align their approaches. The absence of Afghanistan’s representatives at a meeting in Doha in February, the diplomat said, was due to the fact that the invitation did not take into consideration the dignity and the interests of Kabul. “This time, they have promised to create appropriate conditions for the participation of representatives from Afghanistan, and we count on them to attend. As far as we know, they are ready. And they have found the agenda more interesting”, - he said.

Kabulov told International Affairs that Russia-Afghanistan cooperation in economic and logistic areas have potential and prospects for expansion.

“After Taliban came to power, economic cooperation (between Russia and Afghanistan -editor) was suspended, for understandable reasons. But literally a few months later, it resumed”, - the diplomat said in answer to a question which areas of bilateral cooperation are currently in the priority.

Afghanistan, he said, was primarily interested in purchasing from Russia oil products, food products and other consumer goods. “But  over time, as the situation became more stable, I noticed that privately run Russian businesses were signing ever more contracts with Afghan partners, so this sphere will expand. Afghanistan needs many products which are produced in the Russian Federation. Apart from those I have already mentioned, these include timber, metal structures, medicaments. Of course, they need wheat and other food stuffs”, - Kabulov said.

In the words of the Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan, given the present situation, when “the West is blocking, to its own detriment” the logistic corridors, Afghanistan may well become a fairly attractive route. “The Afghan territory is already being used by haulage companies as transit route. Trucks run almost freely from the border of Turkmenistan to the Pakistani border and further to Karachi port or in other directions. In other words, along with the North-South international transport corridor, the Afghan route may become an attractive alternative”, - Kabulov said.

Kabulov also pointed out that the  Afghan authorities are able to guarantee logistic security and that until now there have been no incidents suggesting the opposite.


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