US slammed for Afghan exit, 'new Cold War'

Edith M. LedererAAP
Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov used his UN speech to criticise the Biden administration.
Camera IconRussia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov used his UN speech to criticise the Biden administration. Credit: AP

Russia says it is working with regional powers to ensure Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers keep their promises, especially to form a genuinely representative government and prevent extremism from spreading.

But the country's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday criticised the United States over its withdrawal from Kabul "without any consideration of the consequences", and for working "in the spirit of a Cold War".

Representatives from Russia, China and Pakistan recently travelled to Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, to engage with the Taliban and representatives of "secular authorities", Lavrov said.

These included former president Hamid Karzai, and Abdullah Abdullah, who headed the ousted government's negotiating council with the Taliban.

Lavrov said the interim government announced by the Taliban does not reflect "the whole gamut of Afghan society - ethno-religious and political forces - so we are engaging in contacts. They are ongoing".

The Taliban have promised an inclusive and more moderate government than when they last ruled the country, from 1996 to 2001.

This will include respecting women's rights, providing stability after 20 years of war, fighting terrorism and extremism, and stopping militants using their territory to launch attacks, they said.

But recent moves suggest they may be returning to more repressive policies, particularly towards women and girls.

"What's most important ... is to ensure that the promises they have proclaimed publicly be kept," Lavrov said.

At a wide-ranging news conference and in his speech afterwards at the UN General Assembly, Lavrov criticised the Biden administration for its hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan.

He said the US and NATO pullout "was carried out out without any consideration of the consequences ... that there are many weapons left in Afghanistan".

In his assembly speech, Lavrov accused the United States and its Western allies of "persistent attempts to diminish the UN's role in resolving the key problems of today or to sideline it or to make it a malleable tool for promoting someone's selfish interests".

The United States is also sidestepping the UN, he said, pointing to the recent announcement of a 'Summit for Democracy' despite, Lavrov said, President Joe Biden's pledge this week "that the US is not seeking a world divided into opposing blocs".

"It goes without saying that Washington is going to choose the participants by itself, thus hijacking the right to decide to what degree a country meets the standards of democracy," Lavrov said.

"Essentially, this initiative is quite in the spirit of a Cold War, as it declares a new ideological crusade against all dissenters."

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