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Russia could recognize Taliban as Afghanistan’s official government after collapse of US-backed administration, Putin’s envoy says

Russia could recognize Taliban as Afghanistan’s official government after collapse of US-backed administration, Putin’s envoy says
As Taliban fighters in Kabul announce talks to form a new government, one of Russia’s top diplomats has said that Moscow will be watching the situation closely to determine whether any new leadership can be deemed legitimate.

Speaking to the Rossiya 24 channel on Monday, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said that there were hopes for constructive relations now that the American-backed president, Ashraf Ghani, had gone into exile. “If we compare how easy it is to negotiate as colleagues and partners, then the Taliban have seemed to me for a long time much more prepared for negotiations than the puppet Kabul government,” he said.

According to the diplomat, Ghani, who the local Russian embassy claimed attempted to take large quantities of cash out of the country, was “doubtfully elected, ruled badly and ended shamefully.” Kabulov said that “he deserves to be brought to justice and held accountable by the Afghan people.”

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The official added that the door to recognition for any new administration was open, depending on its conduct. “We are in no hurry to grant recognition,” he said. “We will see how the new regime behaves.”

Earlier on Monday, the Russian embassy in Kabul confirmed that its external perimeter was now being guarded by Taliban militants, after troops loyal to Ghani’s government gave up their posts. Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov told journalists that “the Taliban reaffirmed once again that nobody would be allowed to touch a single hair from [the heads of] Russian diplomats.” He added that the diplomatic mission continues to function and that bilateral channels had been opened on the ground.

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“We met [the Taliban] today, and there was a very good, well-organized transfer of guard posts from employees of the Afghan National Security Forces,” Zhirnov said.

Despite hosting political representatives of the Islamist group in Moscow for peace talks in recent weeks, the Taliban remains a prohibited terrorist group domestically within Russia. Kabulov said that the group’s status was unlikely to be changed in the coming days, and would be based on a UN appraisal of its actions.

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