Russia seeks multi-ethnic Afghan government-Ivanov
MOSCOW, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on Tuesday that Moscow favoured a post-Taliban Afghan government composed of all ethnic groups and acceptable to the international community.
"We want the authorities in Afghanistan to represent all ethnic groups in Afghanistan. We want them to enjoy broad international backing," Ivanov told journalists after meeting the head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
But his words failed to clarify which political group would represent Afghanistan's Pashtun majority, which forms more than half of the population and dominates the ruling Taliban.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has thrown Moscow's backing behind the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, Afghanistan's internationally-recognised government in exile, and appears to oppose any future role for the Taliban.
Despite this, Washington, apparently fearing the Northern Alliance's lack of support among the Pashtun could generate fresh conflict if it captured the capital Kabul, has suggested a future government might include former adherents of the Taliban.
Ivanov, speaking at a joint news conference with Romanian Foreign Minister and OSCE chairman Mircea Geoana, added: "We want them (a new Afghan government) to pursue policies which will allow the resumption of peaceful life in Afghanistan so that there will no longer be any threat of terrorism to other countries from Afghan territory."
Speaking separately on the sidelines of a visit to Moscow by French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, a French diplomatic source said: "We agree with the Russians about the necessity of a government bringing together all components of Afghan society." A French Foreign Ministry official said: "We remain perplexed by the notion of a moderate Taliban."
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf suggested last week that a new multi-ethnic government could include "moderate Taliban."
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