Russia hosted the Taliban and nine regional countries for Afghanistan talks in Moscow on Wednesday. Russian officials said Moscow is still holding out on official recognition of the Taliban and called for an “inclusive” Afghan government.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in order to have a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, the Taliban must focus on “forming a really inclusive government fully reflecting the interests of not only all ethnic groups but all political forces of the country.”
The Taliban’s interim government includes some ethnic minorities in deputy cabinet positions. But overall, the top government posts are held by long-time Taliban members.
While the Taliban haven’t secured recognition, they did get backing for international aid. Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan all joined the Taliban to call on the UN to host a donor conference to raise money for Afghan assistance.
The US did not participate in the talks, but they were invited, and Lavrov said he “regretted” the US absence. The US has said it plans to join future Afghanistan talks with regional countries.
The US is also calling for the Taliban to form an “inclusive” government and is using its power over the international financial system as leverage. The US has frozen about $9 billion in Afghan government reserves and is maintaining sanctions on the Taliban.
In Moscow, Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi said the US should release the funds. “This is the wealth of all Afghans, and our suffering people should not pay the price for political disagreements. As the previous events have demonstrated, putting pressure on us cannot bring about any results,” he said, according to Tass.