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    RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR INSISTS ON INDIA'S SPECIAL ROLE IN AFGHANISTAN SETTLEMENT

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    NEW DELHI, February 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Valeri Sevryukov) -- Russia is interested in further interaction with India in the solution of problems concerning the Afghanistan settlement, Russian ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin has said.

    The Russian diplomat has voiced solidarity with the position of India, resolutely opposing the conversion of Afghanistan into an arena of strategic rivalry between foreign powers. "It is in our common interests to oppose a large-scale narcotic intervention proceeding from that country's territory, including by the creation of antidrugs security belts around it. Without the participation of India the efficiency of such belts will not be high," Mr. Kadakin said.

    At the same time, he voiced regret that the positive processes of building a state in Afghanistan have not yet led to overcoming the split according to the ethnic and regional signs.

    The Russian ambassador noted that the subversive activities of the remains of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, clearly instigated from without, is not slowing down.

    He also stressed that Russia welcomes the historic decision of India and Pakistan to "resume the composite dialogue, targeting mutually acceptable settlement of bilateral problems." Moscow hopes, he noted, that Islamabad's antiterrorist obligations will be realised in full measure and the two adjacent countries will be able to lay the foundation for mutual trust, security, sustainable economic integration in the South Asian region.

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