Russia offers its assistance to settle situation in Afghanistan

Russia's participation in Afghanistan settlement does not imply sending Russian soldiers to that country, said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov at a press conference in Brussels after the session of the Russia-NATO Council.

At the session Russia made concrete proposals on its "assistance to the international forces to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan," the minister said.

"Russia will not remain indifferent to settling the situation in this long-suffering country," he emphasised. "I can name exact issues on which we are ready to provide every kind of assistance: exchange of information, including reconnaissance, rear and technical support, ensuring transportation carried out under the UN aegis, health care and rescue operations," he explained. These measures will be carried out by Russian troops stationed in Tajikistan, "it is approximately 15,000 servicemen of the 201st division and border guards", Ivanov pointed out.

Yet another aspect of Russia-NATO efficient co-operation in Afghanistan is the fight against drug trafficking from that country, the minister believes. According to the Russian Defence Ministry's information, this year the amount of harvested poppy, which is used to produce heroin, was three times higher than last year. This poses a serious threat not only to Russia but to Western countries as well, and in this context an important role is assigned to Russian border guards "who confiscate tonnes of heroin on the Afghani-Tajik border", he believes.

Russia's NATO partners were interested in and thankful for Russia's proposals and "will seriously work on them," the Russian minister concluded.

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