Russian Foreign Minister Warns Against Tug-of-war In Forming Afghanistan's Government

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, speaking to journalists in New York, warned "certain countries" against "tug-of-war" in forming Afghanistan's government. "We see certain manoeuvres by individual countries wishing to guarantee their interests in that region via certain people," Ivanov said. "We regard this as a dangerous claim that may heighten the conflict inside Afghanistan." The minister said the future Afghan government must become a factor that will unite different forces inside the country. "Representatives of different ethnic groups must work together and enjoy United Nations support," he said, adding that only then they will be able to solve problems facing Afghanistan now. "This must be done very quickly also because now there is a vacuum of power in the country," the foreign minister emphasised. Meanwhile, there are political, military and humanitarian problems in Afghanistan which must be solved, he went on, and the international community must have a recognised partner with which these issues could be resolved. This is why, Ivanov said, Russia has sent a delegation to Kabul, to which representatives of the U.N. Secretary General and some countries have also gone, to step up efforts to form a provisional government of Afghanistan. "I think success of the political settlement in that country largely depends on how fast we solve problems with the provisional government and on how closely we coordinate our efforts under U.N. aegis," the Russian minister said. In his words, Russia will act openly, closely coordinating its actions with the U.N. and other states. "We do not seek to have a government in Kabul oriented to a certain country," he said. Moscow wants Afghanistan to have a stable government that will enjoy wide international support and fulfill obligations it must assume in keeping with U.N. Security Council resolutions. "It is in this direction that we will work," Ivanov said. Asked about former Afghan king Mohammed Zahir Shah's comeback into Afghanistan's active political life, Ivanov said "this issue, like many others, should be resolved by the Afghan people." "Our task today is the formation of a provisional government, rather than determination of Afghanistan's destiny," the Russian foreign minister pointed out.

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