Moscow: Russia on Thursday warned the West against
seeking closer ties with Taliban leaders, saying it could help
the militants to regain power in Afghanistan.
"Attempts by the Afghan leadership with the support of
representatives of a number of Western countries to establish
a negotiation process with leaders of the Taliban movement and
to build on this foundation a mechanism of national
reconciliation give us serious cause for concern," a spokesman
for the Russian foreign ministry, Andrei Nesterenko, told a
"Possible selective and thorough work to return repentant
Taliban militants to civilian life should by no means be
replaced with a campaign to rehabilitate the entire Taliban
movement, (and) revive a spirit of tolerance for the terrorist
ideology the Taliban is preaching," Nesterenko said.
Such an attitude could help the militants return to power
and restore a Taliban regime in Afghanistan, he added.
The warning comes amid media reports that Afghan
President Hamid Karzai had held talks with the Taliban
leadership and after Washington last month put General David
Petraeus in charge of its faltering Afghan campaign.
Al-Jazeera television said last month Karzai had met with
a top Al-Qaeda-linked Taliban leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, for
face-to-face talks as a prelude to peace negotiations, a
report his government angrily dismissed.
Petraeus, who replaced General Stanley McChrystal
following his career-ending interview with Rolling Stone
magazine, is known for his unorthodox negotiating tactics.
The New York Times recently suggested he might attempt to
forge deals with senior Taliban militants.
The Taliban, who were in power between 1996 and 2001
before being toppled in a US-led invasion, have intensified
their fight in recent years.
The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to bolster
its supporters but became bogged down in a protracted and
bloody struggle that lasted nearly a decade until the Soviet
pullout in 1989.