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Russian Diplomat: Moscow's Interests Coincide With Taliban's In Fight Against IS

A senior Russian diplomat says Russia's interests in Afghanistan "objectively coincide" with those of the Taliban in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.

Russia has established communication channels to exchange information with the Taliban movement, Zamir Kabulov, Russian president's special envoy on Afghanistan, told the Interfax news agency.

Kabulov said Russia is also ready to supply weapons to Afghanistan, but would do this "with caution and on a commercial basis."

Russian and Afghan officials said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has asked Moscow for artillery, small arms, and Mi-35 helicopter gunships for the Afghan military after the NATO-led international coalition pulled most of their troops from Afghanistan and reduced financial aid.

The Russian diplomat also said NATO-led efforts to provide training for Afghan security forces is "inefficient."

He said the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and that it creates a potential "strategic threat" to Russia, Central Asia, and the rest of the region.

Based on reporting by Interfax and Reuters