20:15 GMT +314 November 2018
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    International conference on Afghanistan opens in The Hague

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    THE HAGUE, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - An international conference devoted to the restoration of Afghanistan's economy and other aspects of peaceful life in the country opened in The Hague on Tuesday.

    Speaking at the start of the conference, held under the auspices of the United Nations and entitled A Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said: "I am sure the conference will give a clear political signal that will make it possible to build a free and prospering Afghanistan."

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is attending the forum along with about 1,900 delegates, including foreign ministers and other representatives of 72 states and about 20 international organizations, including the UN, EU, NATO, World Bank, IMF and NGOs. Of the 73 invited countries, only Uzbekistan refused to attend.

    Russia is represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who will report on the results of an international conference on Afghanistan held in Moscow last week under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization - a regional security organization comprising Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

    President Dmitry Medvedev told the participants of the March 27 conference, which discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East and focused on the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, that Russia is ready to actively contribute to normalization of the situation in Afghanistan.

    The Hague conference was scheduled to last about seven hours, with a joint statement issued at the end.

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