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    RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER HAILS IMPLEMENTATION OF ROADMAP ON AFGHANISTAN

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    BERLIN, March 31, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the majority of provisions of the roadmap plan of settlement in Afghanistan adopted in Bonn have been successfully implemented.

    When he spoke at an international conference on Afghanistan in Berlin, Mr Lavrov said the United Nations mission in Afghanistan had contributed considerably to forming the country's interim administration.

    "Loya Jirga adopted the new Afghan constitution this January, which laid the foundation of Afghanistan's new statehood," said Mr Lavrov.

    The foreign minister welcomed the idea to hold presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously. "We understand that this decision was due to a series of technical and financial problems," said Mr Lavrov.

    Mr Lavrov said the global community's main task was to ensure the confidence vote to a new government on the part of Afghans and not to give ground to opponents of the political process for playing on difficulties that may face the new government.

    Russia welcomes the final declaration, which will be issued after the conference, emphasised the minister.

    "Russia completely agrees with the opinions and assessments cited in the declaration, which outlines major guidelines of the common effort to build a new Afghanistan," said Mr Lavrov.

    The foreign minister reiterated Moscow's staunch support for Afghanistan's interim administration headed by Hamid Karzai.

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