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Moscow wants to be invited to NATO-Afghanistan talks - Lavrov

RIA Novosti

17:03 13/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is waiting for an invitation from NATO to take part in talks on Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

"NATO holds regular meetings between members of the alliance, Afghanistan and Central Asian states. We have repeatedly asked why Russia could not be involved in these discussions." Lavrov said after talks in Moscow with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We are waiting for an answer to our proposal," he added.

An unnamed official from NATO's headquarters in Brussels told RIA Novosti on Tuesday the alliance was interested in holding talks with Russia on Afghanistan in an "appropriate" format that would suit both Russia and NATO.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Russia last Wednesday to provide assistance in training and equipping the Afghan Army.

"Russia could provide equipment for the Afghan security forces. Russia could provide training. We could explore in a joint effort how we could further Russian engagement," Rasmussen said.

Violence has surged in Afghanistan of late, with the radical Islamic Taliban group staging regular attacks on provincial government officials, police and troops. There were over 70 attacks across the country during the August 20 presidential polls.

A suicide bombing in the Afghan capital of Kabul left 18 people dead and over 80 wounded last week.

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