Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has rejected the possibility of representatives of the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia) being used by Russia to fight the Islamic State (IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia), TASS reports.
"I cannot imagine even hypothetically how Russia can use the Taliban to fight the IS," he told reporters at a news conference with Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on Tuesday. "We are fighting against ISIL (former name of the Islamic State) using all available means. We support Syria in this struggle and provide assistance to equip Iraq’s army for the same purposes. And, of course, we want the Afghan people to get rid of the Islamic State."
"We have never made a secret of our contacts with the Taliban, first of all, for the sake of ensuring security of Russian nationals and institutions in Afghanistan, and also, with an eye of compelling the Taliban to stop armed confrontation and embark on dialogue with the government," Russia’s top diplomat stressed.
He also confirmed the participation of representatives of the Taliban movement in the Moscow format meeting on Afghanistan scheduled to be held on September 4. "A couple of years ago, we initiated the so-called Moscow format and invited Afghanistan’s neighbors and a number of other countries in the region, the US and the Afghans themselves to start a dialogue backed by external players. Its next meeting will be held in Moscow in early September, with both representatives of the Afghan leadership and the Taliban movement invited to take part in it. The first reaction was positive, they plan to take part in that meeting. I hope it will be productive," Lavrov concluded.