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U.S. Charges Russia Is Supplying Afghan Taliban 'Groundless,' Lavrov Says

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrive for bilateral talks at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow on April 12.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on April 25 that a U.S. allegation Moscow is supplying arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan was unsubstantiated.

On April 24, a senior U.S. military official in Kabul, briefing journalists on condition of anonymity, said Russia was giving machine guns and other medium-weight weapons to the Taliban for use in the southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, and Uruzgan.

"These are unprofessional and groundless remarks,"Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow. U.S. intelligence officials "know very well that these claims are false," he said. "No one has provided a single fact" to confirm such charges.

Lavrov said Russia's stance is that the Taliban should take part in peace negotiations in Afghanistan.

"We are in favor of only one simple thing - we want the Taliban to join the national dialogue on the basis of the criteria endorsed by the UN Security Council at the Afghan government's request," he said.

But for this to happen, theTaliban must "stop violence, break with terrorism, and respect the constitution," he said.

There's not much hope for reconciliation in Afghanistan without dialogue between the government and theTaliban, he said.

Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, Interfax, and TASS