Russia wants to see Afghanistan an independent and well-to-do state living in peace with all its neighbours and respecting the norms of behaviour recognized in the world community, Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov told the Indian Hindu newspaper. According to him, proceeding from that, "we are ready to render assistance to the efforts for the Afghan settlement, including within the framework of the UN, and other international organisations. We are holding active consultations on this issue with a whole number of interested states and organisations." Ivanov also noted that Russia backs the efforts of the Afghan diaspora, including the supporters of the former King of Afghanistan, Zahir-Shah, for the convocation of the traditional Afghan assembly - Loya jirgah, "capable of becoming an instrument of forming in Afghanistan a representative poly-ethnic government on a broad basis to pursue a policy of neutrality and actively engage in the restoration of the social and economic infrastructure in the country." The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that the presence of the Taliban as a religious and political organisation in the future structure of power in Afghanistan "is inadmissible." He also said that the st! ! atement on the results of the October 22 summit meeting of the heads of state of Russia, Tajikistan and the Islamic State of Afghanistan in Dushanbe stresses that one of the terms of the political settlement in Afghanistan is the abolishment of the rule of the Taliban and the dissolution of their armed formations. As Igor Ivanov stressed, under the patronage of the Taliban, a ramified network of terrorist training camps had been created on the territory of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban. From that place "this infection" spread across the world: to Chechnya, Central Asia, Jamma and Kashmir, and many other countries and regions. "This terrorist infrastructure has actually merged and interacts closely with the international drugs business." The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that "the preservation of the political structures of the Taliban movement, even if in a reduced form, in Russia's view, would present a danger of the regeneration of the stronghold of terrorism and drugs business in Afghanistan." Replying to the question about the support by Russia of the US military actions in Afghanistan, Igor Ivanov said that Russia supports collective efforts for the struggle with terrorism, given that these efforts are taken within the framework of the existing internat! ! ional law and in compliance with the UN Charter. The parameters of the Russian participation in this action, he stressed, are clearly defined in the statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 24. This involves active international cooperation between the intelligence services to exchange information, Russia's readiness to provide its air space for aircraft with humanitarian cargo to deliver it to the area of the anti-terrorist operation and, if necessary, participation in international rescue operations. "We are coordinating our position with our partners in the Central Asian region. Its important element is also the expansion of all-embracing interaction with the government of Afghanistan recognized by the world community, the provision of humanitarian aid to it, and also assistance to it in the form of armaments and combat hardware."
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea