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Putin says Russia mulling removing Taliban from terrorist list

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow is considering removing the Taliban from its list of extremist organizations as it expands engagement with the new rulers in Kabul.

The comments during a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club on October 21 come a day after Russia hosted a high-level Taliban delegation for talks attended by officials from China, Pakistan, and eight other countries.

Moscow has hosted Taliban representatives several times in recent years, but has stopped short of recognizing the group, which it considers a terrorist organization.

In a final statement, the 10 countries in Moscow noted that “further practical engagement with Afghanistan needed to take into account the new reality, that is the Taliban coming to power in the country, irrespective of the official recognition of the new Afghan government by the international community.”

Russia called for the mobilization of international aid to support Afghanistan and one of the aims of the meeting was to consolidate the “efforts of the international community to prevent a humanitarian crisis” in the aftermath of the Taliban’s takeover in August.

Putin said Afghanistan should receive economic support and get its financial assets unfrozen as stability in the war-torn country was in the interest of all its neighbors.

Washington has said it has no intention of releasing nearly $9 billion in Afghan central-bank reserves held in the United States that it froze after the Taliban seized power, despite warnings from humanitarian groups and the UN about the collapse of Afghanistan’s economy and deepening humanitarian crisis.