Russia backs NATO mission in Afghanistan: Lavrov (Lead)

March 16th, 2009 - 10:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, March 16 (DPA) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that his country was allowing cargo supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan through its territory to cooperate with the stabilisation of the war-torn country.
“Terrorism and drug trafficking are the main obstacles before the peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Lavrov told reporters through an interpreter in a press conference in Kabul.

The Russian foreign minister arrived in Kabul Monday on a one-day trip to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta and other leaders including members of the parliament.

To cooperate in that fight Russia decided to allow the overland transit of non-military supplies for NATO and US-led forces that are fighting the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, he said.

Following several attacks by Taliban-led insurgents against NATO military supplies in Pakistan, the alliance had been looking for alternative supply routes for some 70,000 international troops in Afghanistan.

The first NATO supplies crossed Russian territory by train en route to Afghanistan earlier this month.

Speaking at the same press gathering, Spanta said that the two countries had historical ties, and thanked Russia for its assistance in reconstruction and energy with Afghanistan.

“The Russian Federation is one of the important, big and powerful countries of the world and Afghanistan believes that it will be impossible to struggle against the regional problems and bring peace without cooperation with Russia,” Spanta said.

However, Lavrov said his country had no intention of sending a military contingent to Afghanistan.

“The international community is not asking the Russian Federation to send its military contingent to Afghanistan, nor is any such action being planned,” Lavrov said.

Spanta and Lavrov also said that their countries had signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation against drugs.

Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the world’s opium and is the major supplier of heroin used in Russia.

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