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Taliban ink deal to procure Russian petroleum products, wheat

Taliban ink deal to procure Russian petroleum products, wheat

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KABUL: Afghanistan has entered an agreement with Russia to procure millions of tonnes of petroleum products and wheat, Taliban officials said Wednesday.

Russia has been hit hard by unprecedented Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine, causing Moscow to push exports to Asian countries to support its economy, reports AFP.

"The contract was agreed upon last month when the minister of industry and trade visited Russia," Abdul Salam Jawad, spokesman for the ministry, told AFP.

He would not comment on any financial details.

The deal includes supplying Kabul with one million tonnes of gasoline, a million tonnes of diesel, 500,000 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and two million tonnes of wheat.

The ministry of economy, in a separate statement, said the supplies from Russia are expected to arrive "in the next few weeks".

An economic crisis in Afghanistan has only worsened since the Taliban returned to power following a hasty withdrawal of US-led foreign forces last August.

The country's banking sector has nearly collapsed after Washington froze $7 billion of Afghanistan's assets held in the United States.

Billions of dollars in foreign aid that had helped prop up Afghanistan's economy for 20 years during the US military intervention has also vastly reduced, further deepening the crisis. A two-year drought has affected the country's food production.

Taliban officials have maintained that they are looking to strike trade deals with the international community, and have so far received oil and gas from neighbouring Iran.

The government has not yet been recognised by any country, but Russia has maintained bilateral ties with the hardline Islamists since before they seized power last year.

Russia was one of the few countries to keep its embassy open in Kabul during the Taliban's chaotic return to power.