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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov Backs Fight on Terror But Refuses to Provide Troops

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Tuesday that participation of Russian military forces in Afghanistan would be impossible and that it would be a mistake for outside powers to try to install a government there.

"We support any effort in the fight against terrorism, wherever it may be," Ivanov told a news conference following talks with British Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon. He said it was essential to destroy terrorist cells, to cut off financial flows supporting terrorists and to use many different means -- not just military -- to end what he called the "great evil of the 21st century."

But he drew a sharp line under how far Moscow would go in the fight. "The participation of Russian forces in Afghanistan is impossible," Ivanov said.

Ivanov and Hoon said they had discussed the common fight against terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation and peacekeeping. They declined to provide details of their discussions on cooperation in the anti-terrorist coalition, saying such information would tip off terrorists.

"The conversations we've had are best left as private conversations between two governments," Hoon said after an initial meeting.

Hoon's visit to Russia had been planned months before the Sept. 11 attack, but Hoon cut what was originally a three-day visit to one, and the ministers concentrated on concrete ways to act on the cooperation outlined last week by President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Hoon said ground operations were among the options being discussed in the anti-terrorist coalition.

"But they are options," he stressed, adding that no decision had been made.

He also declined to discuss which other countries might be targeted.

Hoon said his government supported the creation of a broad-based government in Afghanistan.

When asked if Russia would favor a government of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, Ivanov said: "No, we wouldn't want that."