Dialogue with Taliban possible only under Afghan leadership – ambassador.

7/7 Tass 26

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 (Itar-Tass) —— Rebel attacks on the U.N. office in Mazar-i-Sharif and the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul confirm that the Taliban is seeking to destabilise the situation in Afghanistan, undermine international efforts towards post-conflict settlement and, despite some of its leaders’ statements, continues to ignore the needs of the Afghan people, Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Alexander Pankin said.

Speaking at an open U.N. Security Council meeting on Afghanistan on Wednesday, July 6, the Russian diplomat stressed that in the light of the ever-growing number of terrorist sorties by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, “the call for a targeted and well-considered approach when implementing the national reconciliation programme assumes special importance”.

“The actions of the militants confirm that the Taliban, while continuing to pursue the purpose of destabilising the situation in Afghanistan and undermining international efforts towards post-conflict settlement in the country, and in defiance of the statements made by some of their leaders, has no regard for the needs of the Afghan population that is interested in lasting peace and accord, and prosperity of independent and democratic Afghanistan,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier.

“We believe that international military presences in Afghanistan, acting strictly in compliance with the mandates issued by the U.N. Security Council, will continue, together with the government of Afghanistan, to effectively counteract terrorist sorties, and protect the civilian population in the context of efforts towards long-term stabilisation in the country,” the ministry said.

Russia believes that a dialogue with the Taliban “can be conducted solely under the Afghan leadership” and “any backstage contacts with them, let alone behind the back of the official authorities, would be fraught with wrong signals about the real intensions of the international community in the context of Afghan settlement”, Pankin said.

Speaking of the latest changes to the sanctions, he stressed that the Taliban members can be withdrawn from under them only if they give up armed resistance, recognise the Constitution of Afghanistan, and sever ties with al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations.

Moscow “is deeply discouraged by illicit drug production and trade in the country”.

“There is no doubt left that Afghan drug trafficking poses a threat to global peace and stability, as clearly stated in Security Council Resolutions 1943 and 1974,” Pankin said.

“It must be neutralised collectively, using all available possibilities. Unfortunately, the coalition forces do not pays this proper attention,” he added.

The permanent representative noted that Russia’s proposals to pool efforts against drug production in Afghanistan “in a real-time mode together with partners from NATO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation” remain in force.

Pankin recalled that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are in Afghanistan in accordance with a U.N. Security Council mandate and “cannot leave Afghanistan without suppressing the terrorist activities and creating an efficient army and police force there”.

He referred to U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent decision to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and expressed hope that this reduction would be made up for by efforts to increase the combat capability of the Afghan Armed Forces that should be able to ensure security and counteract extremism and drug trafficking on their own.

“We would like the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) that has been deployed there with a U.N. mandate by a decision of the U.N. Security Council to effectively carry out their mission,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said earlier.

“We do not need a pocket of tension near our southern border in the form of unstable and terrorist-controlled Afghanistan. Due to historical reasons, we have certain restrictions on how we can contribute to the resolution of these tasks in Afghanistan. We cannot send our troops there,” the diplomat said.

“The Afghan drug aggression into Russia is a big problem, and we will continue working with the Americans. By the way, the Federal Drug Control Service and the respective U.S. administration have established such contact. Work is also under way within the framework of the relevant group within the presidential commission,” he said.

The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement.

The transfer of power to the Afghan government before the end of 2014 does not mean full withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus and Central Asia James Appathurai said earlier.

NATO constantly assesses whether the Afghan civilian authorities are ready to take the reins and whether the national police and army are prepared to assume responsibility for security in the country, he said.

Appathurai noted that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has to approve a new schedule of transition.

He noted that it would be a long transition from the first half of 2011 till the end of 2014. The transfer of power to the Afghan government does not mean full withdrawal of the NATO troops. After the transfer, the alliance will play an auxiliary role by providing support to the Afghan authorities and continuing to cooperate with them, the official said.

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