Russia says vital to help Afghans form inclusive government

·2 min read
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in Rome

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia called on Friday for rapid efforts to help form an inclusive interim government in Afghanistan after a deadly attack at Kabul airport, saying Islamic State was trying to capitalise on chaos in the country and endangering everyone.

Russia said its intelligence services were working round the clock to prevent any spillover onto the territory of its allies in former Soviet Central Asia which the Kremlin sees as part of its southern defensive flank.

After talks in Italy, Russia's foreign minister condemned Thursday's attack outside the gates of Kabul airport that killed 85 people including 13 U.S. soldiers.

"...Of course we see in this the additional need to speed up assistance to the Afghans so they form an inclusive transitional government without further delay - that includes all major political forces in the country," Sergei Lavrov said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the attack "confirmed our pessimistic forecast that terrorist groups, primarily ISIS..., will not fail to use the chaos in Afghanistan."

"This adds to the tension in Afghanistan itself...There is great danger for everyone," he told reporters on a conference call.

The Moscow-led CSTO security alliance announced it would hold military exercises in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan from September to October involving several thousand troops, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russia is already holding a month of exercises in Tajikistan, where it has reinforced its base.

The Kremlin said it had no plans to evacuate any more of its nationals from Afghanistan after flying out 360 of them earlier this week. Around 100 Russians remain and have chosen to stay for now, Moscow has said.

It says it has learned the lessons of the Soviet Union's failed intervention in Afghanistan in the 1980s and will not deploy its armed forces there.

(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov, Maria Kiselyova, Vladimir Soldatkin; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Katya Golubkova and Mark Heinrich)

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