17 May 2019 12:05

Russian diplomat allows for Taliban's exclusion from UN list of terrorist groups

DUSHANBE. May 17 (Interfax) - The Taliban movement (banned in Russia) might be excluded from the UN list of terrorist groups under certain circumstances, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov told Interfax.

"Hopefully, this can be done, considering there will be no peace in Afghanistan without a political process between the incumbent authorities and everyone else," Syromolotov said.

"Let us wait and see how the talks go. We give our political consent. We invited the Taliban to the Moscow Conference, and sanctions were suspended for a few days in that case. I mean we are still complying with the UN procedure. The Americans acted likewise when [U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay] Khalilzad met with them," he said.

The Taliban leadership urged all movement members two days ago to fight ISIL (a terrorist organization banned in Russia), Syromolotov said.

"The reason is that is [ISIL] is an alien terrorist organization, which contravenes the principles of Afghanistan. We think the appeal can change things, since ISIL has been largely growing with Taliban members," he said.

The Taliban's interests are focused on Afghanistan, Syromolotov said.

"They say they do not need to go anywhere. [...] They say this is their land. As for strangers, terrorists from Morocco and France spotted on the Afghan-Turkmen border, is their presence needed in the Afghan territory? Perhaps, not," he said.

The size of the ISIL group operating in Afghanistan is estimated at 8,000 to 10,000 fighters, Syromolotov said.

"We think the group is not ready to cross the border. There are eight camps of Russian-speaking fighters there. As you understand, these are citizens of our countries - Central Asia and Russia. This is a threat. Central Asian countries are our strategic allies, and we have certain obligations to them. Most importantly, the fighters will eventually reach Russia if they cross into Central Asia, and Russia has enough problems with terrorism as is," Syromolotov said.