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Russia backs regional role in resolving Afghan crisis

Moscow is trying to promote regional cooperation to resolve the Afghan crisis and boost its relations with Islamabad, a Russian official said on Thursday.

Speaking to Afghan journalists in Moscow, Russia's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan pointed to 40 years of cold war differences with Islamabad.

But the former superpower is now seeking to expand its ties to Pakistan, Zamir Nabiyevich Kabulov said, arguing the frigid relations had not been in the interest of Afghanistan.

Russian desired to strengthen cooperation with Pakistani through direct negotiations, involving no other country, the diplomat explained.

The current crisis in Afghanistan was a regional issue that negatively affected other countries of the region, Kabulov said. "That's why we went to resolve it at a regional level without the involvement of other states.

"Countries outside the region can only support our initiative that will finally lead to good relations and resolution of disputes among different states," the envoy continued.

He went on to renew Moscow's aversion to a foreign military presence in Afghanistan. "Russia doesn't want foreign military bases there, even if the Afghan people support them."

Despite their consent for the foreign bases, the Afghans should not threaten the security of their neighbours, the official said.

"We want to improve political, economic, social and cultural cooperation among Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India, China and Central Asian countries through regional interactions," he maintained.

Over the past 10 years, Afghanistan had been unable to stabilise its economy, with its army and police not enough strong enough to ensure the country's security on their own, Kabulov believed.

Continued assistance, big infrastructure projects, such as road networks and power supply schemes, could save the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan from ending on an unsuccessful note, he suggested.

[Source: By Ahmad Quraishion, Pajhwok Afghan News, Moscow, 11Oct12]

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