Russia hopes Taliban ‘cope’ with Daesh in Afghanistan

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with journalists following a live nationwide broadcast call-in in Moscow, Russia June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin - RTS177T9

MOSCOW: Ahead of the Russia-Taliban talks in Moscow next week, Russia said that it expects the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan to deal with the Daesh in the country without external support.

The comments came Thursday, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of battle-hardened groups from Iraq and Syria with ties to the Daesh entering Afghanistan.

The Taliban, which seized control of Kabul from a pro-Western government in mid-August, are seeking international recognition, as well as assistance to avoid a humanitarian disaster.

The Taliban regime faces a threat from a Daesh affiliate in Afghanistan, Daesh Khurasan, a bitter rival that has staged deadly attacks.

“We are concerned about the continuing activity of the (Daesh) terrorist group” in Afghanistan, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters.

“We expect that the words of the new Kabul authorities about their ability to cope with Daesh alone without external support will be put into practice.”

Zakharova said Russia expected a delegation of the Taliban to arrive in Moscow next week for talks on Afghanistan.

The meeting will focus on consolidating international assistance for Afghanistan to “prevent a humanitarian crisis” in the wake of the Taliban takeover, Zakharova added.

The Kremlin has in recent years reached out to the Taliban and hosted its representatives in Moscow several times.

But while Moscow has been cautiously optimistic about the new Taliban leadership in Kabul, the Kremlin is concerned about instability spilling over into Central Asia where it has military bases.

After the Taliban takeover, Russia held military drills with Tajikistan — where it operates a military base — and in Uzbekistan. Both countries share a border with Afghanistan.

Putin has also repeatedly warned about members of the groups exploiting political turmoil in Afghanistan to cross into neighbouring ex-Soviet countries as refugees.