Italy FM says West must not `do like Russians` in Afghanistan
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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 18:34
Rome: Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini warned in an interview on Wednesday that Western powers should not "do like the Russians" and leave Afghanistan to the Taliban after this week's elections.

"There remains much to do and that is why it is unrealistic to talk about leaving the country tomorrow," he told La Stampa newspaper ahead of tomorrow's presidential vote.

"That would be to do like the Russians, who exited the country and left it to the Taliban."

Soviet forces fought a nearly 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended in 1989.

The war, which cost more than 13,000 Soviet lives and may have killed as many as one million Afghans, led to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamist Taliban.

Frattini, whose country has some 3,250 troops serving with NATO in the country, said the Western military alliance faces "its most important credibility test since the end of the Cold War" in the conflict.

"We have taken a commitment and we cannot abandon it", he said, adding that Afghanistan was at the top of Italy's foreign policy priorities.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 18:34

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