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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia has no plans to send troops to Afghanistan - Lavrov

RIA Novosti

16/03/2009 15:35 KABUL, March 16 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow has no intention of sending a military contingent to Afghanistan, the Russian foreign minister said on Monday.

"The international community is not asking the Russian Federation to send its military contingent to Afghanistan, nor is any such action being planned," Sergei Lavrov said during a one-day visit to Kabul.

He said Russia wanted the international security force in Afghanistan to act in close cooperation with the country's government and focus its entire efforts on eliminating the threat from drugs.

While in Kabul Lavrov signed an intergovernmental agreement on joint efforts in tackling drug trafficking.

Most of the heroin and hashish coming into Russia originates in Afghanistan, the world's largest heroin producer, before being smuggled through the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Most of the drugs are then sold in Russia's largest cities or shipped onto Europe.

Lavrov also said that Russia had done more than any country in the world to alleviate Afghanistan's debts.

Asked whether Russia, as successor to the Soviet Union, intended to provide compensation for damage caused by Soviet troops in Afghanistan, he said he was unaware that the issue had been raised at an official level.

The minister said Russia was interested in boosting international efforts to stabilize the situation in the war-torn country.

He added that Russia was already cooperating with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in particular, ensuring cargo transits via its own territory.

"We are ready to discuss other measures," he said.

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