MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is ready to be a guarantor of any peace deal for Afghanistan agreed between the United States and the Taliban, the Russian foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Taliban said it was close to an agreement with U.S. officials on a deal that would see U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan in exchange for a promise by the militant group that the country would not become a haven for international terrorism.
“The Russian side is ready to be the third party at the signing or a guarantor of how the deal between the United States and the Taliban movement is implemented,” the TASS news agency quoted ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying.
Negotiations over how to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan have been held in Doha, capital of Qatar, since late last year. The ninth round of talks began last week.
Some 14,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, training and advising Afghan forces and conducting counter-insurgency operations. NATO also has a mission in the country totalling 17,000 to provide support to the Afghan forces.
Russia, which as the Soviet Union waged a 10-year war in Afghanistan throughout the 1980s, has actively supported efforts to reach a peace settlement in the country.
Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Gareth Jones