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Afghanistan Wants Russian Military Aid - 2002-02-10


Afghan Defense Minister Mohammad Fahim is in Moscow to press for help in forming a national army -- and to ask Moscow to resume sending weapons to Kabul.

The seven-day Fahim visit to Russia is the latest bid by Afghanistan's new leadership to get help in forming an army able to put down factional violence that allowed the Taleban to take over most of the country in 1996.

While in Moscow, Mr. Fahim will meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and exporters of military supplies. He also meets with officials from Russia's Foreign and Emergency Situations ministries to discuss the war against terrorism and the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

Late last month, interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai won a promise from President Bush of U-S help in forming an national army and police force.

Mr. Karzai also pressed the United Nations Security Council and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to expand the international peacekeeping force now patrolling Kabul so it can be used to keep the peace in other major cities. That effort has, so far, been unsuccessful. Britain currently leads the peacekeeping force in Kabul.

Russia has stressed it has no plans to provide troops for the international peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.

An ethnic Tajik, Mr. Fahim became military chief of the Northern Alliance after his close ally, former Northern Alliance military leader Ahmed Shah Massood, was assassinated two days before the September 11th attacks against the United States.

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