Afghanistan should be neutral after troop withdrawal - Russian official

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Afghanistan should become a neutral state after the withdrawal of foreign troops, Russian deputy ambassador to the UN Alexander Pankin said on Thursday.

Afghanistan should become a neutral state after the withdrawal of foreign troops, Russian deputy ambassador to the UN Alexander Pankin said on Thursday.

"If Kabul sets a goal of restoring neutrality as early as now, this can ease the reconciliation dialogue with the opposition," Pankin said during a UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered the U.S. military to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year and another 23,000 by the summer of 2012.

Russia believes that military means are not enough to normalize the situation in Afghanistan and supports dialogue between the Afghan government and insurgents if they meet three demands: obey the country's constitution, break their links to Al Qaeda and other terrorist and extremist organizations, and lay down their arms, Pankin said.

Pankin also urged strict controls over Afghan security forces as they take over responsibility for security in the country from international troops.

Russia is "especially concerned over terrorist activity spreading from Afghanistan to the territory of Central Asian states," he added.

"This is a consequence of NATO's ineffective anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan, which lead to militants not being eliminated, but forced out of mainly southern regions to northern regions, as well as to the territory of bordering states," the diplomat added.

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