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Moscow hosts conference on Afghanistan

RIA Novosti

27/03/2009 17:57 MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is ready to actively contribute to normalization of the situation in Afghanistan, President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday in a welcome message to the participants of an international conference.

The Moscow conference on Afghanistan was held under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) - a regional security organization comprising Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The conference participants - SCO ministers and representatives of G8 members, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Iran, the UN, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the OSCE, the EU and NATO - gathered to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and in the Middle East and work out a strategy of fight against terrorism and drug production.

The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

"I am convinced that the conference results will become a weighty contribution to the efforts by member countries and observers of the SCO, other states and international organizations to assist Afghanistan," said the president's message, which was read by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"For its part, Russia is ready for active joint steps aimed at normalizing the situation in the country and ensuring its peaceful and creative development," it said.

Medvedev said the conference was a very important event and noted that its participants would have to discuss a number of serious problems touching upon the interests of Afghanistan and other countries.

The president said Russia is interested in wide cooperation with the international community to resolve Afghanistan's problems.

Lavrov, heading the Russian delegation, said the SCO and CSTO proposed forming belts of drug, terrorist and financial security in Afghanistan.

The Foreign Ministry said Lavrov would attend an international conference on Afghanistan in The Hague on March 31, which will bring together foreign ministers of states involved in Afghanistan, as well as representatives of international organizations.

"The minister will outline the main results of the conference on Afghanistan in Moscow," the ministry said.

At Friday's conference in Moscow, a Chinese deputy foreign minister said China had provided $180 million assistance to Afghanistan and written off all its outstanding debts.

The Turkish foreign minister said Turkey intended to contribute to SCO efforts on an Afghan settlement and an Iranian deputy foreign minister said it was time to switch over from declarations to actions in the Afghan settlement.


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