15:21 GMT +318 October 2019
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    May 27, 2016 photo, members of a breakaway faction of the Taliban fighters walk during a gathering, in Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan

    US Concerned Over Russia’s Position on Taliban - Defense Secretary Mattis

    © AP Photo / Allauddin Khan
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    US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis claimed that Russia’s activities and approach toward the Taliban movement concerns the United States.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier a similar claim was stated by Head of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti who accused Moscow of "perhaps" supplying the Taliban in committee hearings, presenting no proof.

    Russian officials have repeatedly denied accusations over the Taliban. The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier told Sputnik that false US accusations of Moscow supplying the Taliban aim to justify Washington's failures in Afghanistan.

    "We have seen Russian activity vis-a-vis the Taliban. I am not willing to say at this point if that has manifested into weapons. Certainly, what they are up to there in light of their other activities gives us concern. I would just say that we look to engaging with Russia on a political or diplomatic level, but right now Russia is choosing to be a strategic competitor, and we are finding that we can only have modest expectations at this point of areas that we can cooperate with Russia," Mattis told a press conference.

    The US defense chief said he would welcome closer cooperation with Russia on peace agreements but said Washington regarded Moscow as a competitor.

    "I would just say that we look to engaging with Russia on a political or diplomatic level, but right now Russia is choosing to be a strategic competitor, and we are finding that we can only have modest expectations at this point of areas that we can cooperate with Russia," he said.

    Moscow is hosting on April 14 multinational talks on Afghan security. The negotiations were agreed last February by Russian, Chinese, Pakistani, Iranian, Indian and Afghan authorities. The United States declined to attend.

    Taliban is an Islamist terror organization that seeks to establish a strict Sharia law in Afghanistan.

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    Taliban, James Mattis, Afghanistan, United States, Russia
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