Russia, China, Iran to work with Taliban towards 'regional stability'

Head of the Taliban delegation, deputy prime minister Abdul Salam Hanafi, speaks to the media during an international conference on Afghanistan in Moscow on Oct 20, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia and Central Asia powerbrokers agreed on Wednesday (Oct 20) to work with the Taliban to promote security in the region and called on Afghanistan's new leaders to implement "moderate" policies.

Moscow hosted the Taliban for talks in the Russian capital, seeking to assert its influence in the region and push for action against Islamic State fighters, which it says have massed in perennially volatile Afghanistan.

Representatives of 10 countries including China and Iran agreed in a statement after the talks to continue to "promote security in Afghanistan to contribute to regional stability".

The participants also called on the Taliban to "practice moderate and sound internal and external policies" and "adopt friendly policies towards neighbours of Afghanistan".

On domestic policy, they called on them to "respect the rights of ethnic groups, women and children".

Women's rights under the Islamist regime are a top concern.

There was alarm too in Western circles when this week Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, one of the most senior figures in the Taliban government, hailed suicide bombers as "heroes of Islam".

But the Taliban badly needs allies. Afghanistan's economy is in a poor state with international aid cut off, food prices rising and unemployment spiking.

Representatives of countries at the talks in Moscow called for "consolidated efforts to provide urgent humanitarian and economic assistance to the Afghan people in the post-conflict reconstruction of the country".

They also called for a United Nations international donor conference "as soon as possible".

Military actors in the country over the last 20 years should be responsible for post-conflict reconstruction and development, they said - a clear reference to the United States-led occupying force that pulled out of Afghanistan at the end of August.

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