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RF wants US to explain plans on deploying bases in Afghanistan

November 21, 2011, 15:11 UTC+3

After the talks with Yerzhan Kazykhanov, Lavrov said, “At first sight one thing runs counter another. We’d like to have explanations on this”

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MOSCOW, November 21 (Itar-Tass) — Russia would like to have the U.S. explanations on its plans to deploy military bases in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of troops in 2014, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

After the talks with his Kazakhstani counterpart Yerzhan Kazykhanov on Monday, Lavrov said, “At first sight one thing runs counter another. We’d like to have explanations on this.”

“From the juridical point of view, this is the matter of mutual relationship between the United States and Afghanistan. But it is clear that to wider extent it is also necessary to take into account the interests of states of this region what the events in Afghanistan have a direct impact on,” the minister stressed.

“That is why it is very important to understand what concrete tasks will be set before military bases in Afghanistan,” Lavrov said. In his words, “we’re discussing these issues with Afghanistan and with our American partners. It is important for us to understand how the declared withdrawal of troops may be combined with the creation of military bases.”

Earlier, Lavrov said Russia voiced concern over the U.S. plans to create counter-terrorism bases in Afghanistan and expand its presence in Central Asia.

“It is not clear how the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in 2014 is linked to the end of the anti-terrorist operation, on one hand, and the creation of U.S. anti-terrorist bases, on the other hand,” the Russian minister noted.

“We are asking our American partners, but till now there are more questions than answers,” Lavrov said, adding, “From time to time we’re getting information saying our American colleagues want to expand their presence in Central Asian countries.”

Clinton's focus was on Afghanistan, where she met with Karzai and other government officials for talks aimed at boosting reconciliation efforts in the nation. The top U.S. diplomat said she was working toward a peaceful Afghanistan. "No people in the world deserve it more," she said.

Clinton met with representatives of Afghan civil society, including human rights activists who address various issues including education, gender-based violence and youth empowerment. "These are some of my heroes," she said as she greeted them at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Her visit comes as the nation pursues peace with the Taliban after years of insurgency.

The United States supports Karzai and recognizes the blow to the peace effort since Rabbani's assassination, the official said.

In addition to the reconciliation efforts, Clinton also was to discuss Pakistan's relations with the nation and the upcoming Afghan transition. Coalition forces are in the process of transferring security control to Afghan forces ahead of a U.S. drawdown set to be completed by the end of 2014. The 33,000 additional American troops sent last year are scheduled to depart the war-torn country fully by September next year.

At the same time, Karzai said if the United States wanted to deploy military bases in Afghanistan, “we will allow them to do this because this will benefit Afghanistan and facilitate the formation of our armed forces”.

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