Russia will invite representatives of the Taliban to international talks on Afghanistan that it plans to host in Moscow on October 20, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan has said.
Zamir Kabulov, the representative, did not provide further details on the planned conference in comments carried by Russian news agencies on Thursday.
The talks will follow a G20 summit on Afghanistan on October 12 aimed at helping the country avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in the wake of the Taliban’s mid-August takeover of power.
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 country’s then-warring parties to reach a peace deal and curb violence.
It also called on the Taliban not to launch any offensives during the coming months.
Since then, the US and its allies withdrew their troops after a 20-year-long military intervention, the Taliban seized power in a lightning advance and the previous government collapsed.
Russia is worried about the potential for fallout in the wider region. Putin has warned of the possibility of “Islamist extremists” infiltrating the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which Moscow views as its southern defensive buffer.
In the wake of the Taliban takeover, Moscow has held military exercises in Tajikistan and bolstered its hardware at its military base there.
Putin on Thursday also held a phone call with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in which the two leaders discussed the security situation surrounding the latest developments in Afghanistan, the Tajik presidency said in a statement.
Moscow has moved to engage with the Taliban in recent times but stopped short of recognition of the group, which is banned as a “terrorist” organisation in Russia.
Unlike Western countries that rushed to evacuate diplomats following the Taliban’s resurgence, Russia has kept its embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul, open.
Putin has criticised foreign involvement in domestic Afghan affairs and said Moscow has “learned lessons” from the Soviet Union’s invasion of the country.
In the 1980s, Moscow fought a disastrous decade-long war in Afghanistan that killed up to two million Afghans, forced seven million more from their homes and led to the deaths of more than 14,000 Soviet troops.