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27 Mar, 2009 21:22

UN Head: Russia can play leading role in MidEast peace process

Russia could play a leading role and help sort out a large number of regional problems, including Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and the Middle East settlement process, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

As the violence and anarchy in Afghanistan continues to rage, Moscow hosts a major international conference on surging terrorism and the rampant drug trade in the country.

“The Moscow conference on Afghanistan provides a new momentum, a new energy to establish peace and stability and democracy in Afghanistan,” Ban Ki-moon said.

“And together with the forthcoming Hague meeting, we hope that the international community will have a very clear course of action to help Afghanistan”.

The meeting has been organized by the Shanghai Co-operation Organization which includes Russia, China, and four former Soviet Central Asian Republics.

The urgency of the worsening situation has brought the US – and IRAN – to the talks in the Russian capital, too.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, says the use of force alone cannot solve Afghanistan’s problems.

“Russia fully supports the people and government of Afghanistan in their efforts to maintain security, to suppress terrorist activity, and extremist attempts to control certain regions of the country, and set up parallel bodies of government there,” Lavrov said.

“The fight against drug trafficking, whose profits finance the activity of terrorists, acquires particular significance”.

Afghan Foreign Minister, Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, who also attended the conference, said he has high expectations for the meeting’s outcome.

“I’m very happy that the Shanghai Co-operation Organization has begun to recognize the regional and international dimension of the problem, such as terrorism, drug production, and trafficking,” he noted.

Meanwhile, China has decided it will provide financial help to Afghanistan in the amount of 75 million US dollars. It will also write off the country’s debt of 180 million US dollars.