Russia urges effort on Afghan peace

Sergei Lavrov has called on the Taliban to guarantee the rights of Afghan residents.
Sergei Lavrov has called on the Taliban to guarantee the rights of Afghan residents.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for more efforts to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan at the start of a fresh round of talks on the crisis there.

The search for peace is still an urgent task, Lavrov said in Moscow on Wednesday, according to the Interfax agency.

He called on the Taliban representatives at the meeting to guarantee the fundamental rights of all Afghan residents.

Because of the lack of international recognition of the Taliban government and because of economic and humanitarian problems, the situation could not be described as stable, Lavrov said.

According to the Russians, representatives of 10 countries took part in the talks, including Afghanistan's neighbours China, Iran and Pakistan.

The delegation of the hardline Islamist Taliban comprised 10 people, with Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi leading the group, according to the state news agency Bakhtar.

The Taliban's acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told journalists in Moscow that they were calling on the international community to help stabilise Afghanistan, to provide humanitarian aid and to release the country's assets.

The Taliban takeover led to the freezing of some $US9 billion ($12 billion) in Afghan funds, most of which are held in the US.

The Taliban swiftly conquered large parts of the country after the withdrawal of international NATO troops. On August 15, they entered the capital Kabul and took over the country.

Their all-male government is confronted with a severe economic and humanitarian crisis. A drought in the country and the upcoming winter is expected to aggravate the situation.

Australian Associated Press