Members of the Taliban gather at the site of the execution of three men accused of murdering a couple during a robbery in Ghazni province, Afghanistan April 18, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
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Afghan and American officials are increasingly worried that any deepening of ties between Russia and Taliban militants fighting to topple the government in Kabul could complicate an already precarious security situation.Leaders in Kabul say Russian support for the Afghan Taliban appears to be mostly political so far.A senior Afghan security official called Russian support for the Taliban a "dangerous new trend," an analysis echoed by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson.He told reporters at a briefing in Washington last week that Russia had joined Iran and Pakistan as countries with a "malign influence" in Afghanistan, and said Moscow was lending legitimacy to the Taliban.Mantytskiy expressed annoyance at persistent accusations of Russian collaboration with the Taliban, saying the statements by American and Afghan officials were an effort to distract attention from the worsening conflict.In recent months, Taliban representatives have held several meetings with Russian officials, according to Taliban and Afghan government sources.Taliban officials dismissed the idea that their ties to Russia had anything to do with fighting Daesh.
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