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A Taliban delegate in Moscow in March 2021. Photo: Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Taliban representatives on Thursday met Zamir Kabulov, Russia's special envoy to Afghanistan, in Moscow to stress that its recent territorial gains in the country do not pose a threat to Russia or its Central Asian allies, according to the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The meeting came days after a Taliban offensive forced more than 1,000 members of Afghanistan's security forces to retreat into neighboring Tajikistan, where Russia maintains a military base.

  • In response to the crossing, Tajikistan called 20,000 military reservists into action to strengthen the country's southern border.

What they're saying: The Russian Foreign Ministry said Kabulov shared Russia's concerns about the escalation in fighting in northern Afghanistan and called on the Taliban to prevent the conflict from spreading beyond the country's borders, according to TASS, Russia's state news agency.

  • The Taliban assured Russia that it would not violate the borders of Central Asian states.
  • The insurgency group also pledged to prevent the Islamic State from gaining a foothold in Afghanistan and to crackdown on drug production in the country’s territory.

The big picture: The United State's military withdrawal from Afghanistan has coincided with large territorial gains by the Taliban and a sharp increase in violence.

Go deeper: Biden says U.S. military mission in Afghanistan will end Aug. 31

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2021 - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

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