Russia hails the opening of the Inter-Afghan Conference in Bonn as the most important step within the Afghan settlement. Alexander Yakovenko, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, disclosed this to RIA Novosti. In his opinion, the conference is aimed at "transforming Afghanistan into a peaceful and neutral state, free from religious extremism, terrorism and drugs, and maintaining normal relations with its neighbours and the rest of the world". Moscow maintains that a future Afghan government should not be a place for the Taliban and that "the Afghans should solve their problems themselves relying upon the support and assistance of the international community," the Russian spokesman stressed. He claimed that Russian diplomats, who are attending the conference as observers, will work "in close contact" with representatives of Afghanistan, the UN and countries whose experts are involved in the conference.