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‘EU concerned by Russia’s role in Afghanistan’

ISLAMABAD: The European Union is concerned by Russia’s growing role in Afghanistan and also wants China to act as a responsible rising power, EU envoy Jean-François Cautain said on Tuesday.

Mr Cautain was speaking at the ‘60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome: Foundations and Prospects of the European Integration Process’, organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.

He added that there had been reservations about Russian involvement in Ukraine and Syria.

Russia’s role in Afghanistan is the latest addition to Europe’s worries. Moscow has maintained an engagement with the Taliban while simultaneously stepping up diplomacy for a regional solution to the protracted conflict in Afghanistan.

Russia’s efforts in Afghanistan stem from concerns that continued conflict there is providing space for Daesh, which could imperil the security of Central Asian states and Russia itself. However, Moscow’s moves have worried Europeans and Americans.

Next week, Moscow is hosting a meeting of 12 countries on the Afghanistan conflict, and has dismissed apprehensions about its role as baseless. Pakistan will be attending the meeting, while the United States has decided to stay away. Mr Cautain said his side would be watching how the US deals with Russia’s role in Afghanistan.

Discussing China, he said the EU expects responsible behaviour from China as a rising great power. China has acted responsibly in some areas, he said, citing Beijing’s role in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2017

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