Russian Foreign Minister to Discuss Afghan Security Issues in Kabul

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has arrived in Kabul where he is to meet No.2 Afghan political figure, First Deputy Head of the Transitional Administration, Defence Minister Fahim.

The negotiations are expected to focus on Afghanistan's security issues.

Moscow is concerned with the increased activity of Taliban movement supporters and Al-Qaeda emissaries aimed at rebuilding their terrorist structure in Afghanistan, Spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko said.

The security agenda will include the issue of restoring Afghanistan's national army. Experts believe that the creation of a nation-wide, well-organised and centralised Afghan army is the key to ensuring stability and security in the country.

Ivanov and Fahim are also likely to discuss the course of the antiterrorist operation, carried out mostly by the US and British troops. The International Security Assistance Force (ISEF) operating in Afghanistan is represented by troops from 18 countries located mostly in Kabul. The Hamid Karzai Administration is seeking to extend the ISEF mandate to the major provinces of Kandahar, Herat and Mazari Sharif. The Afghan leader is facing regional opposition with local leaders unwilling to give up their virtually sweeping authority.