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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia worried by Iran urging peace with Afghanistan Talibs

RIA Novosti

20/10/2008 15:41 TEHRAN, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is worried by tendencies among some political forces in Iran to have Talibs engaged in peace efforts in Afghanistan, a Russian deputy foreign minister said on Monday.

Speaking after talks in Iran on Sunday with the country's top security and Foreign Ministry officials, Sergei Ryabkov said: "We expressed concerns about recent tendencies toward reconciliation with Talibs demonstrated by certain circles [in Iran]."

Ryabkov said at UN Security Council talks on an extended mandate for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Russia has insisted the radical movement Taliban should not be engaged in the settlement process.

The UN Secretary General's envoy for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, has backed a dialogue between Kabul and some of Taliban leaders. Earlier reports said Saudi Arabia had hosted talks between Afghan authorities and Talibs.

Ryabkov, however, said Russia and Iran have good prospects for cooperation in fighting drug trafficking in Afghanistan.

Both countries have voiced concerns about drug production in the country which has kept growing since the 2001 U.S.-led anti-terrorism campaign that toppled Taliban, criticizing ISAF forces for ineffective measures.

Ryabkov said at talks in Iran, they also discussed developments in Iraq and Lebanon.

The United States and Israel have accused Tehran of supplying arms to radicals active in regional countries - Talibs in Afghanistan, Hezbollah movement in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian West Bank - and of arming Shia militants in Iraq. Some analysts, however, suggested the Iranian government might not be behind illegal Iran-made arms transfers.

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