Russian Foreign Minister declines meeting with Taliban delegation at ‘Moscow Format’ meeting

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. FILE PHOTO. Source: Reuters

The Russian special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, has confirmed that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will not hold a meeting with the Taliban delegation invited “as guests” to the Moscow Format meeting in Kazan.

Kabulov’s remarks were made during an interview with the RTVI media outlet when he was asked about the possibility of Lavrov meeting with Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting foreign minister of the Taliban at the event.

“No, Sergei Lavrov will not meet with Muttaqi and receive the Taliban. The Taliban have been invited to a meeting of the Moscow format,” Kabulov stated.

“And it was not Sergei Viktorovich who invited them, but me, as the president’s special representative. The Minister bears no obligations to the guests I invite. I want to emphasize: the Taliban are not participants but rather guests of the Moscow-format meeting,” he added.

Political analysts noted that regional countries continue to grapple with the Taliban, expressing dissatisfaction with the group’s perceived lack of responsibility in forming an inclusive government, ensuring human and women’s rights, and combating narcotics.

“Muttaqi’s finally remains with no achievement (at the meeting). The Taliban is facing serious problems, and until they implement significant reforms and assume national and international responsibilities, they will not gain acceptance or recognition from the international community,” said Arif Rahmani, a former member of the parliament.

The inclusion of the Taliban delegation in the meeting has also garnered reactions from women’s activists in the country. They argue that the Taliban’s “extensive violations of human rights” make any attempts to normalize relations inappropriate.

“The leaders of this (Taliban) group are still on the terrorist list. Why and based on what logic and law, Russia invites them to Moscow on behalf of Afghanistan,” said Mubaraka Akbari, an activist.

“The participation of the Taliban in the Moscow-format is shameful under any pretext. It is an obvious support for terrorists, violators of human and women’s rights, as well as suppressors of women and perpetrators of crimes against humanity and gender discrimination against Afghan women,” another activist said.

This comes as the Taliban’s acting foreign minister had an 11-minute speech at the meeting where he mentioned their achievements of the past two years but did not speak about women’s rights and their right to education.