On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov paid a visit to Pakistan to hold talks about the stalemated peace negotiations in Afghanistan. During his visit, Lavrov came together with his Pakistani counterpart. This is the first visit of the Russian Foreign Minister in the last nine years. Also, it came as the deadline for the US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan is approaching.
Apart from the intra-Afghan peace process, it was stated that the issues regarding economic relations, energy, and cooperation in counter-terrorism, as well as the situation of a major gas pipeline project, had also been discussed during the meeting between the two ministers. After the meeting, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi shared a message on Twitter saying “Pakistan and Russia share convergent positions on several issues, including peace and stability in Afghanistan.” Besides, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan would accept the Russian Foreign Minister.
The Russian Foreign Minister, on the other hand, issued a statement regarding the Lavrov visit to Pakistan stating “A common concern is the situation in Afghanistan.” Russia’s priority is to find a constructive solution that would bring an end to the civil war in the country through the establishment of an inclusive government that would include the representatives from the Taliban, the ministry said.
Last month, Russia hosted an international conference over the intra-Afghan peace process in Moscow with the participation of the United States, China, and Pakistan. After the conference, the participants issued a joint statement calling on the warring parties in Afghanistan to reach a peace deal and curb violence. Similarly, another international conference was established as part of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process, a Turkish-Afghan joint initiative, in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe. It is expected that Turkey would host such a conference in the upcoming period.
Last year, the United States reached an agreement with the Taliban for withdrawing its troops from the country. According to the agreement, May 1 has been scheduled as the deadline for the US withdrawal. On the other hand, it can be said that Russia is concerned that the instability in Afghanistan might contaminate the region if the US remove from a war in Afghanistan without any agreement being reached between the Afghan government and the Taliban.