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Top diplomat urges SCO to boost anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan

BEIJING, April 24. /TASS/. Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have spoken out in favor of stepping up their activities to fight extremism and prevent conflict situations in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the SCO foreign ministers meeting.

"We have discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the region in general, we are all concerned over the strengthening position of extremists, first and foremost, members of the so-called Islamic State [IS, a terror group outlawed in Russia - TASS] who are coming to the country from Iraq and Syria, trying to gain a foothold in Afghanistan, particularly in its northern regions that border our allied countries from the CSTO (the Collective Security Treaty Organization). It definitely requires stepping up our efforts to counter conflict trends in Afghanistan and facilitate a political solution to the Afghan crisis," the Russian top diplomat noted.

Lavrov also pointed out that the meeting’s participants had agreed there was the need to launch talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement in the near future.

"We welcomed the outcome of the Tashkent conference on Afghanistan held in late March, that called for early negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement (outlawed in Russia), preventing IS members from recruiting Taliban members to join their ranks," the Russian foreign minister added.