Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the second meeting of the Moscow format consultations on Afghanistan, Moscow, November 9, 2018
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,
I would like to begin by thanking you for accepting the invitation to come to Russia for the second meeting of the Moscow format consultations on Afghanistan. This format is designed to coordinate the development of an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue towards promoting the process of national reconciliation and the restoration of peace as soon as possible in the long-suffering Afghan state.
This process is in the best interests of the people of Afghanistan, who suffer numerous casualties and hardships every day. All countries in the region and the international community as a whole sincerely want to see the revival of a peaceful, independent and prosperous Afghan state free from terrorism and drug trafficking.
Afghanistan’s problems can only be settled politically, through the attainment of national accord and with the involvement of all parties to the conflict. In this context, we welcome the delegations of the Afghan High Peace Council and the Taliban. Their presence at today’s event will greatly contribute to the creation of favourable conditions for the launch of direct talks between the government, the Taliban and representatives of broad public and political forces in Afghanistan.
Russia as the organiser of this event sees its role in working together with its regional partners and Afghanistan’s friends to help launch a constructive intra-Afghan dialogue. Clearly, there are many obstacles we will have to overcome on this path, including the sides’ mutual complaints and mistrust.
We hope that responsible politicians will not be guided by personal or group considerations but by the interests of the people of Afghanistan. We deeply empathise with the suffering of the Afghan people, and we are resolved to do everything in our power to help them turn a new page in the history of Afghanistan.
All our countries are facing the threat of international terrorism, one of whose targets is Afghanistan. ISIS as the spearhead of terrorists, supported by its foreign patrons, has tried to turn Afghanistan into a bridgehead for its expansion into Central Asia and the whole of our vast region. Our countries and the multilateral organisations active in the region must help the people of Afghanistan foil these plans and root out the terrorist threat.
Russia stands for the preservation of a unified and indivisible Afghanistan where all of the country’s ethnic groups will live happily at peace with each other. I do not doubt for a second that this approach is shared by the other participants of the Moscow format and that all of us are acting in the fundamental interests of the Afghan people. We must not think in terms of geopolitical games, which can only make Afghanistan an area of international rivalry with grave consequences for the people of Afghanistan and their neighbours.
I hope we will have a serious and constructive conversation which will justify the expectations of the Afghan people.