Moscow (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday of the buildup of extremist and terrorist groups in northern Afghanistan, and said that the Islamic State (IS) alone has about 2,000 members in the area.

“The buildup of extremist and terrorist groups near the border of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is clearly visible,” he said during an online summit of the alliance, made up of nine former Soviet countries.

Putin said to the leaders and prime ministers of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan that ISIS, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan’s Jamaat Ansarullah, Al Qaeda and others are present.

“According to our data, there are about 2,000 members of IS alone in northern Afghanistan,” the Russian leader said.

Putin added that “the terrorist leaders are hatching plans to spread their influence in the Central Asian states, in the Russian regions.”

Extremist and terrorist groups are betting on “inciting ethnic and confessional conflicts and religious hatred,” he said.

“Terrorists are trying to penetrate CIS territory, including under the guise of refugees,” he warned.

Of the CIS countries, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan border Afghanistan, as does Turkmenistan, a partner nation.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon said that the political-military and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan “has created a serious threat to the security of our countries.”

“It is necessary to strengthen cooperation within the framework of the CIS to defend our external borders and raise the combat capability of the armed forces,” said Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

The leader also called for increased interaction between security services in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.

Putin argued that the Taliban will find it difficult to forgo income from drug production in Afghanistan, which remains the world’s largest supplier of opiates.

“When they were previously in power, in principle, they did it and they did it successfully. But today it will not be easy to give up that source of income, especially in a crisis,” he said.

The Russian president also insisted on the need to support the intra-Afghan reconciliation process, and said that Moscow is preparing a multilateral conference later this month.

The meeting, to which the Taliban are invited, is scheduled for Wednesday in a so-called “Moscow format” created in 2017 and consisting of an extended troika for Afghanistan (Russia, China, Pakistan and the USA) plus India and Iran.

The group will propose a UN-sponsored conference on humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

The Russian president’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said Friday that the Taliban have confirmed their attendance at the meeting.

For his part, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced at the online CIS summit that his country had already begun supplying food and other basic necessities to Afghanistan.

He stressed that humanitarian aid to the Afghan people is a “practical contribution to the support of Afghanistan.”

Tokayev reiterated his offer to set up an operations center in Almaty to channel international humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

The Uzbek leader stressed that Uzbekistan is in favor of dialogue with the new Afghan authorities, but he recommends continuing to provide humanitarian and economic aid to the Afghan people. EFE

© 2021 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.


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