Russia ‘Tentatively’ Approves Oil, Grain Exports for Afghanistan

Russia has approved an interim agreement with the Taliban government to supply oil, gas and grain products to war-torn Afghanistan, the two sides announced Wednesday.

Russian news agency Sputnik cited Zamir Kabulov, the president’s special envoy to Afghanistan, as confirming the deal just hours after Taliban authorities reported details of the document.

“Yup, [the deal is tentatively approved]Kabulov told state media in Moscow but did not share any details.

A spokesman for the Taliban-run Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Akhundzada Abdul Salam, said his senior officials visited the Russian capital last month, where they negotiated and signed the import agreement. Kabul “hopes and expects Russia to implement it soon,” Salam told VOA.

Trade and Industry Minister Nooruddin Azizi, who led the talks, said the pact will allow Kabul to purchase 1 million tons of gasoline, 1 million tons of diesel, 500,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas every year. (LPG) and 2 million tons of wheat. From Russia.

Azizi said Moscow offered the Taliban a discount on average world prices for goods that would be delivered to Afghanistan by road and rail. He did not specify prices or payment methods.

The Afghan minister, during his visit to Moscow, declared that his “priority was to import these Russian goods by barter”. Aziz, however, said at the time that Afghanistan could pay to buy oil and grain from Russia “if the barter plan doesn’t work.”

No foreign government has yet given legitimacy to the Taliban, which led a 20-year insurrection against US and NATO troops to defend the Afghan government’s security forces. The rebels finally took power from the US-backed Kabul administration in August 2021 when foreign troops withdrew from the country.

The restrictions imposed by the Taliban on women’s rights to work, education and political participation are, however, among the main concerns preventing the international community from recognizing its own government.

The Taliban’s takeover of power has pushed the war-torn Afghanistan’s economy to the brink of collapse as Western donors halted development aid to the largely foreign aid-dependent South Asian nation , and its banking sector isolated. The sanctions have aggravated an already severe humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Washington and European countries have also barred the Taliban from accessing the Afghan central bank’s reserves worth approximately $ 9 billion, mostly held in the United States. The Islamist group has demanded the return of all frozen funds in Afghanistan.

US officials have been in talks with the Taliban to find ways to prevent the collapse of the country’s economy and facilitate the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to millions of Afghans facing acute hunger.

Earlier this month, Washington announced the creation of a Swiss-based trust fund to disburse $ 3.5 billion of the $ 7 billion held in the United States without involving the Taliban. The group denounced this decision as “illegal and unacceptable”.

In July, the Taliban also struck a deal with neighboring Iran to purchase 350,000 tons of oil and strengthened trade relations with Pakistan, which shares the longest border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani traders have increased coal imports from Afghanistan and Central Asian countries via Afghan territory, allowing the Taliban to generate much-needed revenue to rule the country.

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