Iranian, Kazakh deputy FMs, EU amb attend conference looking at Afghan issues

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(27 Mar 2009) SHOTLIST
1. Exterior of hotel, venue of conference
2. Interior of conference
3. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
4. Media
5. SOUNDBITE (Russian) Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister:
"Russia fully supports the people and government of Afghanistan in their efforts to maintain security, to suppress terrorist activity and extremist attempts to control certain regions of the country and set up parallel bodies of government there. The fight against drug trafficking, whose profits finances the activity of terrorists, acquires particular significance."
6. Various of conference delegates
7. Media
8. Wide of conference
9. Wide of delegates leaving conference hall
10. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, Mehdi Akhundzadeh leaving conference hall
11. Cutaway of media
12. SOUNDBITE (Farsi with Russian translation) Mehdi Akhundzadeh, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister:
"We believe there's no military solution for Afghanistan problems, it won't help. The experience of past years proves that we're right. We see that in spite of the presence of several thousand military commitment, drug production has increased. Also the instability in the area has increased in the past year, and we see new challenges in this country."
13. Akhundzadeh surrounded by media
14. First Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, Nurtai Abyikaev being interviewed
15. SOUNDBITE (Russian) Nurtai Abyikaev, Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister:
"We are sure that current Afghan authorities need military assistance. But it is not intended to occupy or to attack somebody. It is there to prevent terrorist attacks which, unfortunately, permanently happen there. They (the troops) would stay there for certain time, in order to solve certain issues, but it should be under the control of the UN Security Council and other international organisations."
16. Delegates talking outside conference hall
17. SOUNDBITE (English) Marc Franco, Head of the European Commission delegation in Moscow:
"Of course I don't think it's realistic to suppose that in a one day conference you will solve all the problems. But I think it's important that there is a kind of a common interest, a common will, a common purpose of everybody to start working together, to work together even more closely to do something about it."
18. Wide interior of conference venue
Russia's foreign minister on Friday opened an international conference aimed at improving coordination of global efforts to combat militants and drug-trafficking in Afghanistan.
The meeting comes as US President Barack Obama is due to make an announcement on further bolstering US troops in Afghanistan to try to hasten the end of a conflict that still has no clear end in sight.
Friday's conference, whose participants include United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was organised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which includes Russia, China and the ex-Soviet Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
The group has served as a vehicle for Moscow and Beijing to limit Western influence in energy-rich Central Asia.
Last month, Kyrgyzstan ordered the United States to vacate a military base which has been key in supporting operations in Afghanistan.
The move came immediately after Moscow promised 2.1 (b) billion US dollars in loans and aid to the impoverished country.
US officials suspected the Kremlin of instigating the move, but Russia insisted that it did not influence the decision.
Russia is wary of the US military's presence in the strategic region that Russia considers part of its traditional sphere of influence.
Lavrov told the gathering that the fight against drug trafficking in Afghanistan was of "particular significance".

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