Afghan Peace Process Brings Rivals Russia, US in “Good Contact” With Each Other

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PKONWEB Report (New York/Dubai) — Global rivals Moscow and the United States have now congruence of interests for peace in Afghanistan where they fought 11 year war in the 1980s with the latter (then the Soviets) routing the former out with the help from Pakistan.

Kremlin’s ouster from the landlocked country led to fall of the Berlin Wall, unification of Germanys and eventually to Gorbachev’s perestroika push which saw Russia emerging from the ashes of the Soviet Union–and a unipolar world for 2 decades.

It was a windfall (mega lotto win) for the US, but for Pakistan the “graveyard of empires” turned out to be a noisy backyard and continues to be so. Its equity in the struggle went out of the window as victor US wrapped up its presence in Afghanistan and left.

However, after 17 years and almost $1 trillion in American taxpayers money doled out in its second stind–an unwinnable war post September 11, 2001, –the US is finally taking but a soft U-turn and seeks honorable and peaceful withdrawal taking cognizance of Pakistan’s interests and other neighbors too.

Thus, America’s one-time rival and few others are now on its side enabling it in the peacepipe smoking huddles with the Taliban–considered now by thought leaders from all sides–to have the capability of being a bulwark against terrorists in Afghanistan and the region.

As much as the US civil-military thinkers feel, the Russians (and even the Chinese) concur that this minimum agenda could be the ace in the pack, say some analysts.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who is in Doha on the first stop of a Gulf tour (not a coincidence analysts say), said Moscow is playing its role in mobilizing the international community, especially neighbors of Afghanistan, to help launch an Afghan political process. Lavrov noted that Moscow and Washington are in “a good contact” with each other over the Afghan peace process.

“I think this is very useful instead of being rivals and having this kind of artificial competition. We should work together … we can all help the people of Afghanistan to launch this national dialogue which alone can resolve and stop this conflict,” Lavrov emphasized.

He reiterated Moscow’s backing for the Afghan peace effort. “We do follow, we do monitor the talks between the United States and the Taliban,” said the Russian foreign minister.

Lavrov’s statement comes as Qatar’s foreign minister Monday appeared upbeat about “a successful” conclusion of negotiations his country is hosting between the United States and the Taliban to help find a political settlement to the war in Afghanistan.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told a joint news conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Doha will continue to play its role in “coordination and consultation” with international partners to achieve Afghan peace.

“At the end, the result and peace cannot be brought by force or war. It has to be brought by talks and Qatar is continuing its role as a mediator… We hope that we’ll have a successful outcome very soon,” noted al-Thani.

This is the first time a top Qatari official has publicly commented since the U.S.-initiated peace dialogue with the Afghan insurgent group began late last summer in the Gulf nation, which also hosts Taliban’s informal political office.

Taliban and American officials have for the past several days held marathon meetings in Doha, including one Monday, in their bid to finalize a draft agreement on a potential foreign troop withdrawal from Afghanistan conditioned on insurgent guarantees that it would prevent terrorists from using Afghan soil for attacks against the U.S.

The Taliban announced last week the talks with the U.S. were making “a steady progress” and vowed to remain engaged in the process until achieving results.

The two sides have primarily focused on fleshing out “the details and nature” of the U.S. troop withdrawal in exchange for Taliban’s counterterrorism guarantees.

The U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has repeatedly stated in recent weeks that before reaching a final agreement he would want a Taliban ceasefire and the opening of direct talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government. The Taliban refuses any direct engagement with Kabul until it secures a troop withdrawal deal with Washington.

Khalilzad thanked Islamabad for facilitating the travel of Taliban leaders to Qatar. Last month Commander of US Central Command General Joseph Votel, stated that any agreement for resolving the now 17-year-old conflict in landlocked Afghanistan would ensure Pakistan’s ‘equities’.

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