By Maria Tsvetkova
MOSCOW: Russia called on Wednesday for a mobilisation of international aid to support Afghanistan, as Moscow hosted the Taliban for an international conference while regretting a U.S. decision to stay away.
“We are convinced that it is time to mobilise the resources of the international community to provide Kabul with effective financial humanitarian support, including to prevent a humanitarian crisis and reduce migration flows," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters before the start of talks with Taliban, Chinese and Pakistani officials.
Russia's initiative in hosting the talks and rallying aid for Afghanistan is part of an effort to boost its influence in the region after the United States withdrew its forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban seized power in August.
Lavrov said he regretted the absence of the United States from the talks. Washington has skipped the Moscow meeting citing technical reasons but has said it plans to join similar talks in the future.
Moscow is mainly concerned about the risk of instability in the former Soviet countries of Central Asia, and possible migrant flows and Islamist militant activity directed from Afghanistan.
“We call on the Taliban movement – and we discussed this with their distinguished delegation - to prevent the use of Afghanistan’s territory against third countries, most importantly neighbours," Lavrov said.
Russia fought its own war in Afghanistan in the 1980s and has close military and political ties with former Soviet Central Asian states that border Afghanistan.