Russia wants sanctions against Taleban to be intensified

Russia opposes any talks with Afghanistan's ruling Taleban militia and wants sanctions against the group to be intensified, Sergei Ivanov, secretary of the Security Council said on Thursday. "Our position is unchanged: there cannot be any talks," Ivanov told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. "On the contrary, we consider that the world community should intensify sanctions against the Taleban and strictly punish anyone who gives them financial or military help or forms any other kind of contact," he added. The firmness of Russia's position contrasts with that of some its former Soviet allies. Kazakhstan said last week it was ready to make contact with the Taleban, a departure from its earlier strong opposition to the radical Islamic group. Ivanov said the Taleban should hold talks with the anti-Taleban group of ousted President Burhanuddin Rabbani, which still holds the country's seat at the United Nations, Reuters reports. "We call on the Taleban to start a dialogue with the Afghan government recognised by the rest of the world to form a coalition government," Ivanov said. Ivanov was dismissive of the Taleban's rule. "What sort of order is there in Afghanistan? Apart from mediaevalism and the production of drugs, there is nothing," he said. "There is total ideological brainwashing and the support of religious extremism."

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