Russian Defense Minister: Very Complicated Situation Shapes Up Around Afghanistan

A very complicated situation is taking shape in and around Afghanistan, said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov upon arrival in Dushanbe Sunday. "Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolai Patrushev and I came to Dushanbe on the direct instruction by the Russian president to hold a meeting with Tajikistan's leadership, as well as the political and military leadership of the United National Liberation Front of Afghanistan, the lawful government of Afghanistan," said the head of the Russian Defense Ministry. As agreed with the top political leadership of the countries that have rendered active assistance to the Northern Alliance, first of all, Iran, Russia, and Tajikistan, we would like to hold negotiations and find possibilities to coordinate our efforts in fighting against the most dreadful of evils - terrorism, Mr. Ivanov stressed. The Russian minister reminded that over the past few years the territory controlled by the Taliban posed a lot of threats, i.e. genocide against the Afghan people, destruction of cultural monuments, and drug trafficking. This territory hosts a lot of mercenaries, including ethnic Chechens, Uzbeks, and so forth, the Defense Minister said. At the moment, a meeting between Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev is underway in the Tajik capital.

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