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    Afghanistan freezes ties with regional security group

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    Afghanistan has had virtually no contact over the past year with a regional security group on the post-conflict settlement, the head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization said on Monday.

    MOSCOW, September 15 (RIA Novosti) - Afghanistan has had virtually no contact over the past year with a regional security group on the post-conflict settlement, the head of the Collective Security Treaty Organization said on Monday.

    The CSTO is a security grouping comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

    "There has been no cooperation with the Afghan side over the past year. A year ago, the Afghan side stopped all diplomatic contacts with CSTO representatives on the issue of a post-conflict settlement," Nikolai Bordyuzha.

    He added that the behavior could be linked to "big brother giving the Afghans appropriate instructions."

    The CSTO group of the post-conflict settlement in Afghanistan was established in 2006 and includes national coordinators from all the CSTO member states. It was meant to provide assistance to Afghanistan's law enforcement, drug-control and other security agencies.

    Moscow continues to permit non-military supplies for NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan to pass through Russian territory, despite suspending in August all peacekeeping operations with NATO for at least six months.

    Russia made the decision to continue supporting NATO operations in Afghanistan over concerns about the worsening military and political situation in the Central Asian country amid a rise in extremist attacks and heroin production.

    Since the Taliban regime was overthrown in the 2001 U.S.-led campaign, Afghanistan has become the world's leading producer of heroin.

    Afghanistan's opium production increased from 6,100 tons in 2006 to 8,200 tons in 2007, according to the UN. The narcotics trade has become an acute problem for Russia and the Central Asian republics due to a continual flow of illegal drugs from Afghanistan.

    NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has about 53,000 troops operating in the country under a UN mandate to help give security support to the Afghan government and stop the flow of drugs from the country.

    However, despite international efforts, the Taliban, ousted from power after a U.S.-led military operation in 2001, have stepped up their operations over the past year with an increase in suicide and other attacks.

    On Sunday two UN doctors and a driver were killed, when a suicide bomber rammed into their vehicle in southern Afghanistan. And in a separate incident, around six children died with 12 others wounded when a roadside bomb detonated outside of the country's capital Kabul.

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