NEW DELHI: “We need to have a dialogue with the Taliban. We need to know where they are,” said Sergey Ryabkov, deputy foreign minister of Russia. Speaking to journalists on the margins of the MEA-ORF Raisina Dialogue, Ryabkov denied that Russia was taking sides or playing off one side against the other.

“The only purpose of our efforts there is to bring closer the stakeholders. The only way out is a political solution. It is the only strategy that the international community and Russia applies. The Moscow process is only a part of it.”

Responding to US president Donald Trump’s contention about India only building libraries in Afghanistan, he said Russia was “in sync” with India on Afghanistan.

“We understand the central role of India in Afghanistan. We want and welcome India and Indian representatives in all formats including the Moscow talks. Regional connectivity is close to Indian hearts. We wish there would be less competition in some circles.”

Responding to questions on the S-400 and potential US sanctions under its CAATSA law, Ryabkov said, “It is troubling how the US is able to attack the very legitimate form of inter-state military cooperate through sanctions. It is non-compliance of international law. … We need to develop protection means. We should use alternative payment methods and banking.”

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