International recognition of the Taliban “at the present juncture is not on the table,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday at the United Nations.

Among the Taliban’s promises are ensuring an inclusive government; respecting human rights, especially for women; and preventing Afghanistan from becoming a haven for terrorists.

But the interim Taliban government, Lavrov said, fails to reflect “the whole gamut of Afghan society — ethno-religious and political forces — so we are engaging in contacts, they are ongoing.”

Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan, he said, are working to hold the Taliban to the promises they made when they seized control of Afghanistan in mid-August. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the Taliban’s desire for such recognition is the only leverage the world has.

“What’s most important … is to ensure that the promises that they have proclaimed publicly [are] to be kept,” Lavrov added at news conference Saturday afternoon.

Lavrov addressed a wide range of topics, including the Iran nuclear deal and Russian mercenaries in Mali.

On Iran, Lavrov urged a greater effort from the U.S. to rejoin the deal.

“It seems evident they should be more active” in “resolving all issues related” to the accord, Lavrov told reporters, according to Agence France-Presse.

Negotiations stuck

Talks in Vienna among representatives from Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany have stalled, and Iran is no longer in compliance with the nuclear agreement, Lavrov said, “simply because the United State has left it.”

The deal was struck in 2015 and called for Iran to undo most of its nuclear program and allow international monitoring. In exchange, it would receive sanctions relief. Former U.S. President Donald Trump left the deal in 2018, and Iran resumed nuclear activities. U.S. President Joe Biden has said he wants to rejoin the agreement if Iran returns to compliance.

Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said Friday that the talks would resume “very soon,” but Tehran has not been specific about the timeframe, according to AFP.

On Mali, Lavrov said the country had turned to a private military company to help it combat terrorism, something France and the U.S. oppose. Lavrov said the Russian government had nothing to do with any agreement between Mali and Russia’s Wagner Group.

Earlier Saturday at the General Assembly annual meeting, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it was crucial that Afghanistan not be used to spread terrorism globally, and he called on world leaders to help minorities in the country, along with women and children.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August after the U.S. decision to withdraw troops from the country following 20 years of war the U.S and its allies initiated after the al-Qaida terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

No ‘misuse’ of Afghan situation

“It is important to ensure that the land of Afghanistan is not used to spread terrorism and perpetuate terrorist attacks,” Modi said.

“We also have to be alert that no nation should be able to misuse the delicate situation in Afghanistan for their own selfish motives, like a tool,” Modi added in an apparent reference to Pakistan, locked between Afghanistan and India.

Modi’s appeal to protect women in Afghanistan came amid indications the Taliban have been limiting women’s rights since they seized Kabul, despite recent statements that they were willing to ease restrictions on women and girls. Women were largely banned from public life under the Taliban’s previous reign in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

The prime minister of India, which competes with China for influence in Kashmir and in the Indian Ocean region, also cited the need to shield oceans from “the race for expansion and exclusion.”

Other speakers Saturday at the assembly included leaders from Ethiopia, Mali and Haiti.

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