Russian FM says no rivalry between Moscow, Doha in intra-Afghan settlement process

DOHA (TASS): Russia and Qatar discussed at talks in Doha the situation in Afghanistan as well as cooperation on the Afghan settlement, Foreign Minister of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told a joint news conference with the foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey, Sergey Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday.

“We discussed the situation in Libya and Afghanistan, we also [hope] for further cooperation on the Afghan issue. We are now cooperating with our friends from Russia,” the minister said. “We don’t see any objections to further negotiations, our relations with Russia are based on transparency in all aspects,” the top diplomat said.

DOHA: The settlement process in Afghanistan is not a matter of rivalry for Russia with Qatar or other countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Thursday at a news conference with Turkey’s and Qatar’s top diplomats Mevlut Cavusoglu and Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

“We all want the tragedy in Afghanistan to end as soon as possible. This is another example of what the consequences of democratization that non-regional countries are trying to bring look like in practice,” he noted. “We are not competing with Qatar or anyone else here. We do not speak here from positions that can be made the subject of some kind of jealousy.”

He stressed that accusations against Qatar for its desire to prioritize its own interests in the intra-Afghan settlement process because of the Doha talks followed the flawed logic. Meanwhile, some issues remain unresolved during the dialogue process. “Today we talked about that, including with [Qatar’s] emir and foreign minister. We want to help the continuation of these negotiations from more constructive positions, which each side involved in this process needs to adhere to,” Lavrov added.

“The Moscow meeting is being convened precisely for that. It was initiated by the so-called Russia-US-China trio. The trio will meet in an extended format involving Pakistan and with the invitation of the Afghan parties. This format is in no way official, enshrined in some decision. It is aimed at encouraging the parties to be more cooperative through informal, free discussions and trust-based conversations,” he explained.

On Tuesday, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan and Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department Zamir Kabulov told TASS that Russia had invited the United States, China, Pakistan, representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban group (outlawed in Russia), as well as Afghan political figures, to Moscow for consultations on a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan on March 18.