Russia wary of Afghanistan international forces drawdown

Oct. 9, 2013 at 9:16 AM
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MOSCOW, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Afghan forces may have a tough time ensuring a state of national security once international forces leave the country, the Russian foreign minister said.

International forces operating in Afghanistan are handing over security responsibility to their Afghan counterparts ahead of a 2014 drawdown date. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Wednesday said he didn't think Afghan forces were up to the task.

"The closer the date of withdrawal is, the more evidence we have that Afghan security forces are not going to be ready," he was quoted by state-backed news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

The British Ministry of Defense has been vocal about its redeployment out of Afghanistan. The U.S. Defense Department, meanwhile, said it was working to move its military equipment out of the country.

Lavrov said there are lingering security challenges from a Taliban that doesn't want to negotiate with the Afghan government or its military protectors.

"Unless we have an inclusive process, I'm not very optimistic about any political solution to the situation in Afghanistan," he said.

The British Foreign Ministry said in a report last month Afghan forces were able to respond to most security incidents with "limited support." The force wasn't fully developed or sustainable, it said.

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