Moscow plans to include Iran in Afghanistan dialogue with US

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MOSCOW – Russia has an interest in Iran joining the Russia-China-US format for the Afghanistan talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

The Afghan government continues its fight against militants of the radical Taliban movement, which has already conquered significant territory in rural areas of the country and launched attacks on large cities. Daesh [ISIS] has also increased its influence in Afghanistan. Afghan national defense and security forces are conducting joint counter-terrorism operations across the country.

“We have a dialogue with them [United States] in Afghanistan. There is a Russia-China-US format that Pakistan has adhered to. There is interest in connecting Iran to that format. It can be promising,” Lavrov said on Friday.

The establishment of a direct peaceful dialogue between the conflicting forces in Afghanistan is being discussed by various forums, including Moscow, where a private meeting on Afghanistan was held last November, with representatives of regional states. For the first time, a Taliban delegation attended the meeting. The Supreme Peace Council, which stands as mediator between the government and the Taliban, also attended the meeting.

In recent months, the US has negotiated with the Taliban an agreement in Afghanistan. In early September, US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, announced that the draft agreement provided for the initial withdrawal of 5,000 of the approximately 14,000 US military personnel in Afghanistan over the next 135 days. However, the signing of the agreement was eventually suspended at the initiative of the US administration.

The US Department of Defense is drawing up plans for a rapid withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, warning of any sudden order from the US president, the media reported.

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The Pentagon is preparing contingency plans for a rapid decline of the US presence in Afghanistan, reported the US channel NBC citing government sources.

The Pentagon’s cautious behavior would be a response to Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw troops from Syria. The withdrawal was classified as “scrapped” by critics after the US bombed its own ammunition left behind.

The sources emphasized that there has not yet been explicit order of the White House feels sense, according to the report.

On Monday, the commander of the US mission to Afghanistan , Gen. Austin Scott Miller, said the US military presence in the Asian country had already been reduced by 2,000 troops last year.

On October 6, President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria. On the 9th, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed the withdrawal of another 1,000 troops from the Arab country.

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