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Russia will not create ‘another Afghanistan’ for itself: Lavrov

February 10, 2013, 23:14 UTC+3
The minister disagreed with the opinion that Russia has lost positions in the Middle East and in North Africa
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VLADIVOSTOK, February 10 (Itar-Tass) – Russia will not create ‘another Afghanistan’ for itself by upholding its positions in the Middle East, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in the “Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyov” TV program on Sunday.

The minister disagreed with the opinion that Russia has lost positions in the Middle East and in North Africa. “I would say this is not true at all,” he stressed. “Unlike most other states that deal with the Syrian problem in this way or another, we daily, regularly speak with all interested Syrian parties – with the government and all without exception opposition groups,” he said. He reminded the audience that quite recently he met with Muaz al-Hatyb, head of the Syrian National Coalition.

“We had contacts with other representatives of the opposition, including the Syrian National Council which is considered a bitter foe of Bashar al-Assad and the regime on the whole,” he continued. And all opposition activists said they "did not imagine the future of their country, that region without an active involvement of Russia,” Lavrov stressed. “It is more comfortable for these countries, or at least these politicians, to have many-vector ties, and not just one foothold, as it is always not very stable, but several ones, thus ensuring a balance,” he added.

Focusing on the situation in Libya, the foreign minister stated that the new authorities don’t control the whole territory of the country, “and it would be important for the region and for the interests of stability in that part of the globe that they restore that control”. “But this proceeds with a lot of difficulties,” he admitted. “We are trying to help them in that through the UN Security Council,” he added. “The UN Support Mission works in Libya, ‘building bridges’ between the recognized legitimate central authorities and the leadership of provinces, consisting of different clans,” he said. “But the Libyan authorities are sending us direct signals that they are interested in restoring work on projects started under Muammar Gaddafi. The same refers to Egypt,” he said.

He made a comparison with Iraq. “In 2003 we categorically opposed what Americans were doing there at the head of a coalition. Now the prime minister of Iraq comes to us, and the president of that state communicates with us,” the top Russian diplomat added. “They want to develop economic cooperation, they create condition for the activity of our oil, energy and other companies in the country. Baghdad is interested in buying Russian products of military purpose,” he stressed.

“My answer to those who wonder why we are not fighting for our position is such – we will not be fighting for our positions by sending a task group to the region and creating ‘another Afghanistan’ for ourselves,” he stressed. “Never! Under no circumstances. We will be maintaining relations with all countries of the region, working with their legitimate governments,” he emphasized. He said Russia would work with the opposition motivating its groups to channel discontent into evolutionary transformations. “No good comes out of revolutions as experience shows,” he stressed.

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