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Russian FM Lavrov calls new US policy on Afghanistan regrettable

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called the new US policy on Afghanistan regrettable, saying the blueprint recently unveiled by President Donald Trump was a “futile course.”

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on Thursday, Lavrov expressed “regret that the main focus of the new strategy announced by Washington is regulation by methods of force.”

“We are certain this is a futile course,” the top Russian diplomat added.

On August 21, Trump unveiled his administration’s new strategy in war-ravaged Afghanistan, backtracking from his earlier promise to end America’s longest war.

The American president pledged that he would prolong the military intervention in the Asian country, which he once described as a “complete waste.”

Trump’s willingness to further commit to the war in Afghanistan, rather than withdraw, represents a significant shift in his approach since taking office.

The United States currently has around 8,400 soldiers in Afghanistan with about another 5,000 troops from NATO allies.

NATO countries are asked by the US to send 3,000 to 5,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan, as Washington is also planning to send up to 4,000 additional troops, including hundreds of Special Operations forces, to the war-torn country.

Washington claims that the massive military presence is only aimed at maintaining security across the country and pushing back Taliban and Daesh Takfiri terrorists until Afghan military forces are ready to take over the responsibility.

Lavrov snubs US accusations

Elsewhere in his remarks, Lavrov rejected suggestions that Moscow was behind supplying the Taliban militant group in Afghanistan.

“It’s not the first time we are accused of supporting and even arming the Taliban,” Lavrov said, adding, “Not one fact has been presented” to support this.

Lavrov stressed Moscow only contacts the Taliban for two things: ensuring safety of Russian citizens in Afghanistan and pushing the Taliban to hold talks with the Afghan government.

The remarks come after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday suggested Moscow was arming the Taliban.

Earlier this year, a similar allegation was made by Curtis Scaparrotti, a top NATO commander who said Moscow was assisting and possibly supplying the Taliban.