Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to thank the President of Tajikistan for hosting this meeting in the republic’s capital Dushanbe. I would like to thank our Afghan colleagues, Dr Rabbani, the Defence Minister of Afghanistan and the Foreign Minister of the Islamic State of Afghanistan for the meeting today.
Everybody knows that the Russian Federation is a consistent and long-time supporter of the internationally recognised legitimate Islamic State of Afghanistan. We are aware of the suffering of the Afghan people, which was made worse after the territory of Afghanistan was made available to terrorist organisations and when practically the whole country was occupied by Islamic fundamentalists.
The talks today were extremely substantive and useful. Our Afghan colleagues briefed us on the situation in Afghanistan and we reaffirmed Russia’s commitment to support the Government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan in the military-technical field. We reaffirmed our commitments and described concrete plans of bringing humanitarian relief to the Afghan people. The aim of the Russian policy in the region is to create a situation in the country when the people of Afghanistan have a chance to independently determine their destiny, a chance to embark on peaceful life and build a state that is friendly towards its neighbours, including the Russian Federation.
In this connection we discussed the future of Afghanistan in some detail. I am pleased to note the commitment of our colleagues to building a system of representation in the country’s government bodies that reflects the interests of all the ethnic groups and political structures that are friendly, or would create an atmosphere of friendship and mutual understanding with all the countries in the region and win Afghanistan broad international support.
Question: Did you discuss the future coalition government of Afghanistan? And what will be your reaction if the US insists that the Government include the “moderate” Taliban?
Vladimir Putin: We believe that the movement has compromised itself by cooperation with international terrorists. And we regard as reasonable the position of the legitimate and internationally recognised Government of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, which is that the Taliban has no place in the future Government. At the same time, as I said before, we are glad that the Afghan leadership today seeks to expand its support base and the participation of all ethnic groups represented in Afghanistan. We believe this is the right position, and it was in that light that we discussed the future of Afghanistan.
As for the American position, these questions should be put to the American leadership. But I have to tell you that before flying to Dushanbe I had a substantive discussion with the President of the Untied States and the Secretary of State. We set out our position very clearly and succinctly. I got the impression that the position has met with understanding on the part of our American partners.
Question: What concrete ways for delivering humanitarian aid and assisting Afghanistan in overcoming its humanitarian crisis have the three leaders decided on? And how soon will the aid start?
Vladimir Putin: First, the aid is already coming from the Russian Federation, and we will proceed in two directions. First, direct humanitarian supplies will come from the Russian Federation. I repeat, we have already started delivering them. And second, we will help other countries and international organisations that wish to support the people of Afghanistan in this critical situation.
As you know, our delegation includes the Russian Minister for Emergency Situations, who has been here for several days preparing the dispatch of humanitarian cargoes to Afghanistan. We are doing it in close contact with the UN, which has some resources in Central Asian states. A whole list of goods with a statement of quantities has been prepared to be sent to Afghanistan shortly. The list has been agreed and our Afghan colleagues are aware of it.
We also discussed it with US President George W. Bush. He told me that he had decided to change the channels for supplying humanitarian aid to Afghanistan: not just to drop it from the air, as has been the case up until now, but to proceed in a more focused way, using the transportation system of the Russian Federation and directly delivering aid to the Afghan people.