China and Russia show common front on Afghanistan

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BEIJING, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Chinese and Russian leaders discussed Afghanistan on Wednesday, Chinese state media said, but did not echo the G7's call for the Taliban to allow people to flee the country after Aug. 31, as desperate crowds left behind by the withdrawal of U.S. troops continue to fear for their safety.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanged views on Afghanistan in a call on Wednesday, a day after leaders of the Group of Seven countries met to discuss the crisis.

China and Russia are not part of the G7, a grouping of rich democracies which includes the United States and Britain.

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President Joe Biden said on Tuesday the United States expects to finish evacuations by Aug. 31. The Taliban said all foreign evacuations from the country must be completed by then.

The G7 leaders agreed on Tuesday to press the Taliban to allow safe passage to Afghans wanting to leave after Aug. 31.

In the call with Putin on Wednesday, Xi reiterated China's position of non-interference and of respecting Afghanistan's sovereignty and independence, China's People's Daily reported.

The report said Putin told Xi he shares China's positions and interests in Afghanistan and he is willing to work with China to "prevent foreign forces from interfering and destroying" Afghanistan.

Xi urged all parties in Afghanistan to build an open and inclusive political framework, implement moderate, stable policies and cut ties with all terrorist groups.

Putin said Russia also wants to work with China to fight terrorism and drugs smuggling and to prevent the security risks from "spilling out" of Afghanistan.

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Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by Giles Elgood

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