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Russia Says 'Inclusive' Afghan Government Key to Recognizing Taliban

FILE - This handout photo released by the Taliban Foreign Ministry shows Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi (2L) and Kremlin's special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov before their meeting in Kabul, March 24, 2022. (Photo by Taliban Foreign Ministry / AFP)

Russia said Wednesday it was not considering granting legitimacy to Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities but maintained that humanitarian problems facing the conflict-torn nation oblige many countries to “enter into contacts” with the new rulers in Kabul.

“It’s not being discussed at the moment; we have said this many times. It is useless now to predict when this will happen,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow when asked about the possibility of recognizing the Taliban regime.

The insurgent-turned-Islamist group took over Afghanistan last August and installed an interim administration following the end of almost 20 years of U.S.-led foreign military intervention in the South Asian country.

No country has yet recognized the Taliban government, citing concerns the Islamist group has reneged on pledges to respect the rights of all Afghans and prevent terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, from using Afghanistan for international attacks.

The all-male Taliban Cabinet is being criticized for not having representation of all Afghan ethnic and political groups.

Zamir Kabulov, the Russian special presidential envoy for Afghan affairs, on Tuesday outlined Moscow’s conditions for recognizing the Taliban.

“[An] inclusive ethnopolitical government should be the first step towards this. We make no secret of this and we say so outright to our Afghan partners,” Kabulov told Russian state-run television.

“As soon as this happens, there will be the basis for a serious discussion. We will act regardless of what the United States and everybody else may think."

The Taliban reject criticism of their government, saying it represents all Afghan ethnic and political groups. The hardline ruling movement strongly defends restrictions on women, saying the conditions are in line with Afghan culture and Islamic tradition.

Since the Islamist group took control of Afghanistan on August 15 of last year, it has not allowed most teenage schoolgirls to resume classes.

“It’s still unclear today, as it was 10 months ago, how the Taliban want to run this country. The clouds of uncertainties are larger & darker. The international community exacerbated the crisis with sanctions & halting development projects,” tweeted Mohsin Amin, an Afghan policy analyst and researcher. He estimated in a separate tweet that the education ban has prevented 2 million Afghan girls from going to school.

China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey are among several countries which have kept their embassies in Kabul open even after the exit of the United States and its NATO-led partners from Afghanistan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry recently accredited the Taliban-appointed Afghan chargé d'affaires to allow him to run the Afghan Embassy in Moscow, calling it “a step toward resuming full-fledged bilateral diplomatic contacts” with Kabul.

An already bad humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has worsened since the return of the Taliban to power in the wake of international financial sanctions on the group, pushing the national economy to the brink of collapse.

The United Nations estimates that more than half of Afghanistan’s estimated 40 million population are suffering from acute hunger and urgently need humanitarian aid. Some 1.1 million Afghan children are suffering malnutrition.