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Russia Wants Clarity About U.S. Plans Regarding Afghanistan — Deputy Defense Minister

File Photo of U.S. Troops Atop  Ridge in Afghanistan Surveying Valley
file photo

DUSHANBE. Aug 9 (Interfax) - Russia is urging its U.S. partners to clarify plans regarding their military presence in Afghanistan after 2014, if such exist, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said.

"We have a question: if the ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force) leaves Afghanistan in 2014, where it is staying with a certain mandate, does this mean that it has fulfilled its mandate?" Antonov said at a press conference in Dushanbe on Thursday.

"If this is so, then this force should report to the body that has given it this mandate," he said.

However, what Russia is concerned about is that the U.S. plans to preserve its military presence there after 2014 when the ISAF led by the U.S. should complete its withdrawal, he said.

"Suppose we learn that the U.S. stays in Afghanistan. Then we again have a question: if (the mission) is fulfilled, why are the Americans staying there, and if not, then why are they withdrawing?" he said.

"We would like to receive additional explanations from our American partners regarding the prospects for military presence there - without bases or some centers and so on. We would like to learn from them whether American military bases will appear near the CSTO (the Collective Security Treaty Organization) borders," he said.

The CSTO is comprised of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.

Antonov said he did not see the need for the U.S. to deploy its military facilities in one of these countries.

"The deployment of such bases within the CSTO is impossible, because the heads of the CSTO members recently decided that such deployment is possible only with all the CSTO members' consent, and I do not see the need or reasons for an American military base to appear in any CSTO country," Antonov said.

"The CSTO is capable of ensuring its own security," he said.

Antonov also regretted Uzbekistan's recent withdrawal from the CSTO.

"I regret that Uzbekistan has decided to suspend its CSTO membership. I believe the more countries work together for collective regional security, the better," he said.

Keywords: Russia, Central Asia, Afghanistan - Russian News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

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