Question: When will the US-led anti-terrorist operation end – with the catching of bin Laden, destruction of Al-Qaeda infrastructure or the toppling of the Taliban regime? How do you see the future of Afghanistan after the Taliban and what role can the UN play in the future?
Vladimir Putin: The actions of the international anti-terrorist coalition in Afghanistan are a key part of the fight against international terror, but only one part. The fight against international terrorism calls for the efforts of the entire international community and should be waged in several areas. It should include military pressure on the terrorist infrastructure and their units, and also cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking and cutting the funding channels, etc. We have paid much attention to discussing these issues with Mr President.
As regards Afghanistan, where terrorist training bases have been created, where terrorist attacks on US cities were planned and where, by the way, terrorists were trained to be sent to the North Caucasus, to Chechnya, it will become possible to restore normal life in Afghanistan with the removal of the Taliban.
The government created there should have a broad base of support inside Afghanistan. The future government should have representatives of all ethnic groups, including of course, the most numerous one, the Pushtuns. The future government of Afghanistan should have the support of other countries in the region: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Pakistan, and of course other countries which have interests in that region. I mean the US, the European countries and the Russian Federation.
In that sense the role and significance of the UN in Afghan settlement is hard to overestimate. Mr President said that the UN must be involved in the future disposition in Afghanistan, and I absolutely agree with him. I can say more: we discussed the problem with US President George W. Bush in Shanghai in a very similar way. And in the same vein, I talked with the leadership of the Northern alliance, with the leadership of the Islamic State of Afghanistan just recently in Dushanbe. So on the whole, we are on the right track.
But there is one circumstance I would like to draw your attention to and which the Portuguese President mentioned in our talk. Today we face an important problem: we should not allow anyone to undermine international public opinion and the international coalition against terror. We see absolutely eye to eye on that with Portugal.
Question: A lot has been said today about the OSCE. Does this organisation have a future, and if so, how do you see it?
Vladimir Putin: I’ll try to be brief. I think the more harmonious the relations in Europe and the world, the more chance the OSCE has to address the key issues for the sake of which it has been created. So, there are some grounds for optimism.