Russia Extends Invitation to Taliban for Key Economic Forum

Russia Extends Invitation to Taliban for Key Economic Forum

by Reuters News Service
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Russia has extended an invitation to Afghanistan’s Taliban to participate in its largest annual economic forum, signaling Moscow’s efforts to lift the ban on the Islamist movement, as reported by a senior Russian diplomat on Monday.

Since the Taliban took control in August 2021 following the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces after two decades of conflict, Russia has been gradually fostering ties with the group, despite the Taliban still being officially outlawed in Russia.

Zamir Kabulov, the director of the Second Asia Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry, stated that both the foreign and justice ministries had submitted reports to President Vladimir Putin regarding the removal of the ban on the Taliban.

Kabulov mentioned that while some questions remained, an invitation had been extended to the Taliban to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum scheduled for June 5-8. He noted that Afghan leaders traditionally showed interest in purchasing oil products.

The St. Petersburg forum, previously attended by Western CEOs and investment bankers, has undergone significant changes amidst the Ukraine conflict, leading to a shift in Russia’s relations with the West.

Western investors seeking opportunities in Russia’s resource-rich sectors have been supplanted by businesses from China, India, Africa, and the Middle East.

The Taliban, originating around the city of Kandahar in 1994, emerged from factions involved in the civil war following the Soviet Union’s withdrawal and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government.

Initially composed of “mujahideen” fighters who had received support from the United States in repelling Soviet forces during the 1980s, the Taliban was formally designated as a terrorist organization by Russia in 2003, despite sporadic informal contacts with the group.

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