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21 Mar, 2012 02:09

Moscow: US-NATO coalition must finish its job in Afghanistan

Russia's envoy to the UN says that the US-led coalition in Afghanistan should not be pulling out as its job is not even remotely complete. Moscow believes that fighting the country’s drug industry must be among the priorities.

Speaking at the UN Security Council’s meeting on Tuesday, Vitaly Churkin pointed to the fact that the United Nations had issued the international assistance mandate and it is up to the organization to end it once the mission is accomplished. According to international law, it is the UNSC that has to give approval and write a report before the troops can withdraw from Afghanistan.Churkin indicated that it would be ill-considered to establish arbitrary deadlines for withdrawing troops while the violence escalates in Afghanistan and the overall situation remains unstable. He added that viable security needs to be established before the international forces can leave.One of the many concerns that Vitaly Churkin voiced pertained to the growth in the production and illegal sales of drugs. The production of opium increased by 60 per cent in 2011, he said. Stringent measures have to be taken, he added, to eradicate the fields and infrastructure for illegal drug production.Russia’s envoy also painted a grim picture of the means employed by the NATO-led forces in order to fulfil their mission. He said that many civilians are still being killed in airstrikes.US-based anti-war activist Kathy Kelly added to the criticism, saying that the Afghan people are long overdue a safe and secure country.“The mandate that’s been given by the United Nations, that demands security, is one that we should all pay very great attention to. But it seems to me that much of this security [could be delivered] – in terms of healthcare and food, and available fuel, and electricity, and clean water – by countries that have been part of four decades of warfare paying reparations,” she told RT.Despite Moscow’s stance that the international forces must complete their mission in Afghanistan, Richard Becker, a regional coordinator for the ANSWER coalition, says the US must withdraw from the country because it has been losing ground to the Taliban.“When you consider that about one fifth of all the US and NATO troops who have been killed this year have been killed by people wearing Afghan military or police uniforms, that’s an indication that the so-called preparation of these forces to take over from the US and NATO is very, very far from being a reality,” he told RT.“There has to be, at some point, an end to the US and NATO occupation of the country and it appears that the strongest force in the country inside of Afghanistan at this point is the Taliban,” Becker concluded.