U.S.-Russia Group Stresses Taliban Must Go
Thursday, November 01, 2001 9:41 PM EST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Russia on Thursday reaffirmed their opposition to any role for the Taliban in a new Afghanistan government if the movement is ousted as a result of the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism.
``The sides agreed that the Taliban as a movement should have no place in future bodies of state power in that country,'' the State Department said in a statement issued in Washington after a meeting of the U.S.-Russia Working Group on Afghanistan in Moscow.
Russia is part of an international coalition backing Washington's military campaign against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement, aimed at rooting out the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden. The Saudi-born militant is blamed by Washington for the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks on the United States that killed about 4,800 people.
A U.S. delegation headed by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on Thursday briefed Russian officials on the progress of the military campaign dubbed ``Operation Enduring Freedom,'' the State Department said.
The delegations also discussed international moves toward the establishment of a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan,
``The U.S. and Russia agreed that overcoming instability in Afghanistan requires a comprehensive settlement of the protracted internal conflict in Afghanistan and the formation in the country of a broad-based, multi-ethnic government,'' the statement said.
``In the context of the discussion of further joint and parallel steps to assist post-conflict settlement in Afghanistan, the sides confirmed that determining the country's future is an exclusive prerogative of the Afghan people.''
The United States and Russia also called for increased international humanitarian aid for Afghanistan's civilian population and agreed to coordinate further efforts in that area, the State Department said.
Thursday's meeting in Moscow was the fifth session for the U.S.-Russia Working Group on Afghanistan. The next meeting is set to take place in January in Washington.
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