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Biden unlikely to turn tide regarding U.S. troops’ pullout from Afghanistan – Russia

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Moscow does not rule out that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden may tweak outgoing President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan but believes that game-changing changes are unlikely.

Russia’s special presidential representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said this in an interview with Sputnik.

“The change of the U.S. administration is likely to have some influence on the process of peaceful settlement of the situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

“We don’t rule out that Joseph Biden may introduce some adjustments to the decision by the previous administration to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but these are unlikely to be profound changes,” Kabulov said.

Kabulov, who also heads the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department, expressed the belief that Biden would only modify some parameters related to the U.S. forces’ withdrawal.

“However, other options are also possible, for example, replacing the regular U.S. armed forces with private military companies — which we believe would be a mistake,” the high-ranking diplomat stressed.

Moscow is ready to continue cooperation with Washington on the Afghan crisis settlement, regardless of whom Biden will appoint as the special representative, Kabulov confirmed.

The Russian diplomat praised his “great dialogue” with Zalmay Khalilzad, who serves as the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan since 2018.

“I do not know if he retains the post under the new administration.

“Khalilzad knows the Afghan specifics perfectly well and he also has great diplomatic experience.

“At the same time, we will be ready to work with any other U.S. negotiator, as long as they have a business-like constructive approach to cooperation,” Kabulov said.

In February 2020, Washington and Afghanistan’s radical group Taliban signed the first peace deal after more than 18 years of conflict.

The agreement envisions foreign troops pullout from Afghanistan within 14 months and the launch of the intra-Afghan peace talks following a deal on a prisoner exchange between the Taliban and the government.

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