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Russian Ambassador To Kabul To Meet Taliban

Russian Ambassador Dmitry Zhirnov (left) meets with former Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar in Kabul in March.

A senior Russian official says the country's ambassador to Afghanistan, Dmitry Zhirnov, will hold talks with Taliban representatives on August 17 to discuss the security of Russian citizens and embassy personnel.

Russian presidential envoy Zamir Kabulov told the radio station Ekho Moskvy on August 16 that Zhirnov will meet Taliban representatives in Kabul on how the group plans to provide security for the Russian Embassy in the Afghan capital.

Though Moscow initially said it would not change personnel numbers at the embassy, Kabulov said some staff at the embassy will be given either paid leave or be evacuated to reduce the number of people present during the turmoil.

Zhirnov said that the Taliban militia was already guarding the Russian Embassy.

"Today the Afghan national security military who guarded us left. Taliban representatives assured us again that they will not touch a hair on the heads of Russian diplomats there, saying, 'You can safely continue working,'" Zhirnov said in a televised interview with Rossia-24.

Russia is estimated to have a staff of around 100 people at the embassy.

On August 15, the Taliban announced it had taken control of the Afghan capital, Kabul, after weeks of capturing large swaths of the country in offensives timed with the announced August 31 departure of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Based on reporting by Ekho Moskvy, Rossia-24, and Interfax