The latest: The Quartet of Russia, China, Pakistan, and Iran has been working together on Afghanistan and now, there is a chance that India might join the group as well.
- Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the announcement at a news conference at the UN in New York on Tuesday.
- “We want this Quintet to be constituted as something of a core for the format of neighbouring states,” he said.
- Posing a dilemma for India in joining a “Quintet” is that the four countries in the Quartet have the makings of a distinct anti-West grouping and two of them, Pakistan and China are hostile to New Delhi.
Apart from this, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the remaining US weapons would help destabilize Afghanistan and surrounding countries if they fell into the hands of militant terrorists in Afghanistan.
- She accused the Americans of “deliberately abandoning their weapons in Afghanistan”. She described the current security crisis in Afghanistan as a clear example of the West’s “reckless” behaviour, especially NATO, towards South Asia.
Back story: The foreign ministers of the Quartet had met in Samarkand in Uzbekistan earlier this month under the chairmanship of China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang and offered to cooperate with the Taliban regime in reconstruction and in economic matters.
- However, the ministers also expressed concern over the presence of terrorist organisations in Afghanistan that “continue to pose a serious threat to regional and global security”.
- Their statement included criticism of the West that said that “the NATO countries should bear primary responsibility for the predicament in Afghanistan” and should immediately lift sanctions on Afghanistan and return its frozen assets.
Zoom out: This comes even as Lavrov said that while the Taliban regime, which has no international recognition, is a “reality on the ground and there’s a need to talk with them”, Russia will not recognise it “until they comply with (and) honour their own pledges”.
- He made political inclusivity that extends beyond ethnicities to political groups a condition.
- They will have to “ensure inclusivity in the governing structures, not just inclusivity at the ethnic level, but also at the political level”, he said.
- While they include minorities like Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbek they are all members of the Taliban, and “it is very important for there to be strong representation and political forces”, he added. There is also the issue of human rights, including the rights of women and girls, he said.