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Russia favours cooperation with India & Iran on Afghan theatre

Russia has expressed interest in closer coordination and cooperation with India and Iran in the Afghan region amid the power transition in Kabul and the expected uncertainty after it.

While there is a loose cooperation between Moscow, New Delhi and Tehran on matters concerning Afghanistan, there could soon be a concrete and active trilateral partnership with the Taliban regime having taken control of Kabul, ET has learnt.

The matter is understood to have figured during foreign minister S Jaishankar’s visit to Tehran and Moscow in July when the Taliban fighters were advancing towards the Afghanistan capital.

The minister, while addressing a high-level meeting in Moscow, said the basis for trilateral cooperation is valid till date.

The three nations had backed the Northern Alliance during the 1996-2001 period when the Taliban was in power in Kabul.

Last week, Russia’s foreign minister emphasised that international mediators can play a significant role in Afghanistan and that Moscow is interested in involving India and Iran to bring peace to the war-ravaged country.

“International mediators can play a more significant role here than in other conflict situations. Our efforts of the so-called Troika–Russia, the US, China–and within the framework of the expanded Troika engaging Pakistan are directed precisely at this,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by the official Tass news agency. “We are interested in Iranians also getting involved, and then other countries as well, in particular, India.”

Russia has stepped up efforts to reach out to all key stakeholders in the war-torn country to stop the violence and push the Afghan peace process. Russia has been holding the ‘Moscow Format’ of talks to bring peace and create conditions for the process of reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Last month, Lavrov said in Tashkent that Russia will continue to work with India and other countries which can influence the situation in Afghanistan.

While it has engaged with the Taliban, Moscow has been vigilant with the security of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan–which border Afghanistan–and has been engaged in military drills with the two along the Afghan border.

Russian government sources have indicated that Moscow will take tough measures if terrorism and instability spills over in the Central Asia region which maintains close security ties with Russia.