Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, met with Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Pakistani foreign minister, in Islamabad, to reaffirm their support for the Afghan peace process and express concern about the country’s conflict.
On Wednesday, Lavrov met with Qureshi at Pakistan’s foreign ministry for delegation-level talks, and he will also meet with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and other senior officials.
“We are also concerned by the deterioration of the situation in the area of security in Afghanistan and by the rise in terrorist activities and march of ISIL in the north and east of the country,” said Lavrov after his talks with Qureshi.
“We agreed that we need to further facilitate the contradictory and hostile parties [in Afghanistan] for them to reach an agreement and put an end to a civil war based on inclusive dialogue.”
On their Afghan policies, Qureshi said the two sides have seen “strong cooperation.”
“We also discussed the successful ‘expanded troika’ meeting [held in Moscow on March 18], the possibility of another Moscow meeting and instructed our envoys to stay in close contact to remain in touch and to coordinate their positions,” he said.
Earlier, a Russian statement said the country hoped to “find an early constructive solution to end the civil war in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through negotiations on the establishment of an inclusive government with the participation of the Taliban movement.”
Lavrov said Russia and Pakistan shared a “concurrence or similarity of approaches” to regional problems, including the situation in Afghanistan, in an interview with a Pakistani newspaper published on Wednesday.
Lavrov’s trip to Pakistan comes as the May 1 deadline for US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan approaches. Given the rise of violence in Afghanistan, the withdrawal, which was agreed to in a peace agreement signed between Washington and the Taliban, is looking highly doubtful.
Direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban began last year in Doha, Qatar, but progress has been slow, and violence has increased even as negotiators continue to meet.
On March 18, Russia hosted members of the Taliban and the Afghan government, as well as Pakistani, Chinese, and US leaders, for a one-day meeting of the “extended troika” in an attempt to jumpstart the peace process.