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Putin Pledges Aid to Afghan Opposition - 2001-10-22


Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged more military assistance to Afghanistan's opposition Northern Alliance.

Mr. Putin spoke after meeting in Tajikistan early Monday with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and Burhanuddin Rabbani, the Afghan president ousted when the Taleban took over Kabul in 1996.

President Putin says the Northern Alliance can count on Russia's political and military support. He also says Moscow wants to help provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

The Russian leader went on to reaffirm Moscow's recognition of Mr. Rabbani as Afghanistan's legitimate leader. He says the Taleban should be excluded from any future Afghan government.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who accompanied President Putin, says nations that actively support the Afghan opposition, such as Russia, Iran and Tajikistan, need to share their views.

Mr. Putin was stopping in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, on his return to Moscow from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Shanghai, China.

Tajikistan and Afghanistan share a long border, which is guarded on the Tajik side by 25-thousand Russian troops. Tajik President Rakhmanov has called for establishment of a security zone around Afghanistan.

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