Lavrov and Zardari call for an inclusive government in Afghanistan

Appearing at a joint press conference in Moscow on Monday, the Russian and Pakistani foreign ministers, Sergey Lavrov and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said both countries wanted the Taliban to fulfil its commitment to the international community and establish “an inclusive multi-ethnical government.”

The Pakistani foreign minister arrived in Moscow yesterday for a two-day visit to meet with his Russian counterpart on bilateral and regional issues, including Afghanistan.

 “We spoke much about the developments in Afghanistan, which are directly connected to the task of eliminating terrorist threats in our region. So far, unfortunately, this has not happened in Afghanistan. But efforts are being made. We have agreed to use the capabilities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation for these purposes, in particular, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group,” Sergey Lavrov said in a statement late on Monday.

Asked at the press conference about the recognition of the Taliban government, Lavrov said that “the establishment of an inclusive government in Afghanistan is not the condition taken by the international community. This is a commitment that was stated by the Taliban itself as they came into power in Afghanistan. They said that the establishment of an inclusive and multi-ethnical government will be one of their goals. And the global community naturally expects them to comply with their commitment. This along with other matters will be of principle importance for the international legal recognition for this government.”

The Pakistani foreign minister said his country and Russia were cooperating with each other on a common goal to bring about peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“I absolutely endorse what the foreign minister (Lavrov) is saying. Whether it is the issue of an inclusive government, whether it is the issue of terrorism, whether it is the issue of rights. These are not prerequisites or demands from our sides. These are the promises that the interim government of Afghanistan made with the international community. These are the promises that the interim Afghan government made with their own people. And I believe that it would help us help them if they fulfill their commitment to their own people,” Zardari said.

Russian and Pakistan kept their embassies open in Kabul after the Taliban’s recapturing of power, and have kept a close relationship with the group, the latter of which has long been accused of supporting the group during its 20 years long insurgency against the previous Afghan government and the US and NATO forces.