Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Iran and five former Soviet Central Asian states joined the Taliban in calling on the UN to convene such a conference as soon as possible to help rebuild the country.
They said it should be carried out “with the understanding, of course, that the main burden … should be borne by the forces whose military contingents have been present in this country for the past 20 years.”
That was a clear reference to the United States and its allies, which invaded Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks and whose abrupt withdrawal paved the way for the Islamist Taliban to regain control of the country in August.
Washington decided not to attend the talks, citing technical reasons, but has said it could join future rounds.
Russia has led calls for international aid, aware that any spillover from the Afghanistan conflict could threaten regional stability.
“No one is interested in the complete paralysis of an entire state, which borders, among other things, with the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States),” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Since returning to power, the Taliban say they have acted as quickly as possible to open up their government and guarantee women’s rights, and that they pose no threat to any other country.
“Afghanistan will never allow its soil to be used as a base for anyone to threaten the security of another country,” Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said.
Abdul Salam Hanafi, the deputy prime minister who led the delegation, said: “Isolating Afghanistan does not benefit anyone.”
While governments around the world, including Russia, have refused to grant official recognition to the Taliban government, the statement acknowledges the “new reality” of its rise to power.
Looking for influence
Russia’s initiative to host the talks is part of an effort to increase its influence in the region after the US withdrawal. Their main fear is the risk of instability in Central Asia, and possible migratory flows and militant Islamist activity directed from Afghanistan.
Russia fought its own disastrous war in Afghanistan in the 1980s and has close military and political ties with the former Soviet Central Asian republics that border Afghanistan.