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Russians Head To Afghanistan For Talks With Northern Alliance - 2001-11-17


A delegation of Russian officials is on the way to Afghanistan to establish ties with leaders of the Northern Alliance.

Senior Russian diplomats say 17 officials from the foreign, defense and other ministries will hold talks with the Northern Alliance in Kabul, which the Alliance now controls.

They say it is the first step toward resuming a permanent Russian presence in Afghanistan.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov says it is necessary to work with the Alliance to discuss a United Nations' plan to form a new, broad-based government.

Moscow ruled out any role for the Russian military in Afghanistan, but has supported the U-S-led military campaign to oust the Taleban and destroy Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorist network.

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