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Lavrov affirms Russia’s Central Asian allies say they do not intend to host US military

Russia's top diplomat pointed out that including India and Iran in the expanded "group of three" on the settlement in Afghanistan would enrich the possibilities of this format

TASHKENT, July 16. /TASS/. None of Russia’s Central Asian allies stated their intention at the Tashkent conference of hosting any part whatsoever of the US military infrastructure, which the Americans are moving out of Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on the sidelines of the international conference, Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities, on Thursday.

"As for the plans by the Americans that they are in fact making public and actively promoting, they seek to persuade Central Asian countries and Pakistan, in particular, to use their territory for accommodating some military infrastructure, which the Americans are moving out of Afghanistan," Russia’s top diplomat said.

"First of all, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have already officially stated that this is out of the question and they will not use their territory to host such infrastructure. We conferred both in bilateral contacts, and now at the meeting of foreign ministers of five Central Asian states plus Russia on this issue. None of our allies has stated their intention to subject its territory and population to such a risk," the Russian foreign minister stressed.

The participants in the talks also spoke about another US initiative, namely, the attempt to withdraw Afghans who collaborated with the Americans and accommodate them "either temporarily or permanently on the territory of Central Asian states," Lavrov revealed.

"At first, they talked about 10,000 but quite recently I heard already as part of the American discussions in various political think tanks in the US that the figure of 100,000 until the end of the year was mentioned," Lavrov added.

"Today, I already mentioned this in my contact with my Central Asian counterparts and they understand perfectly well all the risks that these plans harbor and they will, perhaps, make the right decision, proceeding from their own interests," Russia’s foreign minister specified.

Expanded "group of three" on the settlement in Afghanistan

Russian Foreign Minister also pointed out that including India and Iran in the expanded "group of three" (Russia, China, the US, and Pakistan) on the settlement in Afghanistan would enrich the possibilities of this format.

"The ‘group of three' discussed in particular the candidacies of India and Iran [as new members]. I think that this can enrich the possibilities of this format," the top diplomat said.

The foreign minister noted that one of the key tasks of the expanded ‘group of three’ is the involvement in the dialogue on the settlement of all political and ethnic groups residing in Afghanistan.