SCO won’t replace NATO in Afghanistan: Russian diplomat

Moscow, Jan 16: The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has no plans to replace the NATO in Afghanistan following the planned withdrawal of the block’s troops from that country, Russia’s envoy to the SCO Kirill Barsky said Wednesday.

“The SCO cannot stay away from Afghan issues. But the SCO as well as the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) is not prepared to assume untypical functions of ensuring security in Afghanistan,” Xinhua quoted Barsky as saying at a round table meeting on the Afghan issues.

He noted that the SCO sees its key aim in efficient cooperation between its members as well as in fighting terrorism and drug-trafficking in Central Asia.

The SCO, he said, does not plan to act as NATO substitution in Afghanistan.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), deployed in Afghanistan since 2001, is scheduled to withdraw this year.

Founded in 2001, the SCO comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan having observer status.

In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan in 2014 could create a sizable “area of instability” in the adjoining Central Asian countries, posing direct threats to Russia.

A month earlier, head of the CSTO Nikolai Bordyuzha said that ISAF departure from Afghanistan would not dramatically affect Russia’s security. He, however, admitted that it would have a negative impact on the security situation in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

IANS