Russia says it doesn't expect breakthrough at talks with Taliban - Metro US

Russia says it doesn’t expect breakthrough at talks with Taliban

A Taliban flag is seen in a military position on a hilltop in Kabul

MOSCOW (Reuters) -President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan said on Friday he did not expect any major breakthrough at talks with the Taliban next week in Moscow.

The official, Zamir Kabulov, said in comments published by Russian news agencies that the Taliban had confirmed their attendance at the talks next Wednesday but had yet to announce the members of their delegation.

“We do not expect any breakthroughs,” RIA news agency cited Kabulov as saying. “We understand that this is a long process.”

Kabulov added that a officials from Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan would meet separately in Moscow on Tuesday to come up with a united position on the changing situation in Afghanistan, RIA said.

Moscow hosted an international conference on Afghanistan in March at which Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan released a joint statement calling on the then-warring Afghan sides to reach a peace deal and curb violence.

Since then, the United States and its allies have withdrawn their troops after 20 years on the ground, the Taliban seized power and the previous government collapsed.

Russia is now worried about the potential for fallout in the wider region and the possibility of Islamist militants infiltrating the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which Moscow views as its southern defensive buffer.

Since the Taliban takeover, Moscow has held military exercises in Tajikistan and bolstered hardware at its military base there.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Peter Graff)

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