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Russia's Lavrov Meets With Afghan Leaders


http://gdb.rferl.org/9F907633-B937-4A04-B3FC-03AED607E143_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/9F907633-B937-4A04-B3FC-03AED607E143_mw800_mh600.jpg Lavrov(left) wiht Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta in Kabul today (epa) February 23, 2007 -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Kabul today with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta.


Lavrov, who attended the official reopening of the Russian Embassy complex, said an agreement in principle was reached on settling Soviet-era debts owed to Moscow by Afghanistan.


He said a settlement would be reached in accordance with the rules of the Paris Club of government creditors.


Lavrov also said Russian energy firms are interested in possible investments in Afghanistan. He said settling the issue of Afghanistan's debt would "open the way" for further investment.


Lavrov also expressed concerns about increased drug trafficking from Afghanistan. He said Moscow is ready to extend assistance in the fields of education, reconstruction, and training security forces.


Spanta says today's talks also focused on regional and international issues -- including tensions about Iran's nuclear program.


(RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, Interfax, ITAR-TASS, AP, dpa)


Saving Afghanistan's Heritage

A UNESCO team working to stabilize Herat minarets in 2003 (UNESCO)

THE MINARETS OF HERAT: In Afghanistan's leafy western city of Herat, a two-lane road slices between the city's five remaining 15th-century minarets. Every truck, car, bus, motorcycle, and horse-drawn carriage that passes by sends vibrations coursing through the delicate structures.
In particular, the Fifth Minaret -- all 55 meters of it -- seems ready to collapse into a dusty heap of bricks and colored tiles at any moment. A large crack near its base makes drivers speed up just a little as they pass by....(more)

Click on the image to view an audio slideshow of this story by RFE/RL correspondent Grant Podelco.


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