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Russia ready to restore cooperation on Afghanistan with US, NATO — diplomat

February 09, 20:45 updated at: February 09, 21:25 UTC+3 MOSCOW

A diplomat says hasty pullout of the US forces from Afghanistan may entail unpredictable consequences

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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, February 9./TASS/.Russia is ready to restore cooperation with the US and NATO on the settlement of common tasks in Afghanistan, Russian president’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, has told TASS.

"We, for our part, are ready to restore cooperation with the US and with NATO countries to settle our common tasks in Afghanistan," said Kabulov, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department.

He said Moscow had not yet held official contacts with the Donald Trump Administration regarding the Afghan problem.

"If you look at it in a general context, the current period is far from the best timing for a withdrawal of foreign troops, including the U.S. units, from Afghanistan," said Kabulov, who is director of the Second Asian Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry. "The situation in the sphere of security there is degenerating and a whole set of factors makes the Afghan national security forces incapable of putting up resistance to the armed opposition on their own."

"Given this situation, a hasty pullout of foreign military may bring about unpredictable aftermaths and destroy whatever encouraging achievements of the past few years," Kabulov said.

"The situation on the Afghanistan-Turkmenistan border causes certain concern here," the diplomat said. "We have information about some 1,000 gunmen of ISIS (the former name of Islamic State, a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) stationed in Afghanistan’s north-western provinces," said Kabulov, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department.

"We have been marking activity of IS (a terrorist group outlawed in Russia) in Afghanistan from the summer of 2014," Kabulov said.

"Within this period of time, the number of active supporters of the group has been constantly changing. At the moment, the numerical strength of IS gunmen is estimated at about 3,500 people, and given the number of sympathizers and ‘dormant’ cells of the group, this figure may rise sharply," he added.

"In view of certain attractiveness of IS slogans for part of Afghan youth and a fair financing, a growth in the number of IS militants in the country and a sizable growth of their terrorist activity cannot be ruled out in the foreseeable future," he said.

"The total strength of extremists in northern Afghanistan stands at around 15,000 men," said Kabulov, who is director of the Second Asian Department at the Russian Foreign Ministry. "There are the apprehensions the militants may try to expand into the territories of neighboring countries of Central Asia (Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan TASS)."

"As of today, an alarming situation is unfolding on the Tajik direction due to concentration of IS militants in the province of Badakhshan," he said.

"We believe that in case the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border sharply deteriorates, and extremists make an attempt to break through from the Afghan territory, capabilities of the CSTO may be used under a due appeal of the Tajik side," he said. 

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