Russia takes part in creation of new Afghan army

On Friday at a plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly Sergei Lavrov, permanent Russian Federation representative stated that within the framework of international efforts to create an Afghan army Russia in 2003 supplied to Kabul fuel and lubricants, motor vehicles, communications means, spare parts and other military equipment worth about USD 50 million.

Having stressed the necessity to prevent access of former Taliban officials to new power structures he appealed to very carefully treat the reform of the Armed Forces and the whole security sector of Afghanistan.

Lavrov indicated that "on the one hand, one should strive to ensure balanced representation of national groups in power structures but on the other hand it was necessary to continue relying on those forces which proved their commitment to construction of a new Afghanistan in the struggle against Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants." The Russian representative stated that at this stage presence in the country of international security assistance forces (ISAF) was of paramount importance.

Sergei Lavrov stated that "to stabilize the situation in the whole territory of Afghanistan ISAF are to expand their presence beyond Kabul and first of all into southern and southeastern regions." He stressed that in order to further strengthen security in Afghanistan the Russian leadership allowed passage of military equipment to meet ISAF needs across the Russian territory.

The Russian Federation permanent representative stated that "the UN has to continue playing the pivotal coordinating role in international efforts in Afghanistan." Taking into account the fact that after general presidential elections in Afghanistan scheduled for June 2004 the timetable approved in October 2001 at the All-Afghan peace conference in Bonn immediately after the Taliban regime was overthrown would be implemented, Lavrov spoke in favor of conducting another multilateral conference to determine possible participation of the international community in the subsequent stage of Afghan peace process.

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