Karzai stresses joint Afghan-Russian front against terror
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai, during his visit to China to attend the Shanghai Security Organisation (SCO) summit, called for a joint Afghan-Russian front against menace of terrorism in the region, his office said on Friday.
At a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the important regional gathering in Beijing, the president also stressed the need for boosting trade links between the two countries.
A statement from the Presidential Palace in Kabul said Karzai expressed his pleasure over the expansion of Afghan-Russian ties over the past decade. “Russia a great nation in the region and ties with it have special importance for us.”
He voiced Afghanistan’s concern at increasing extremism in the region, saying that the issue needed to be the focus of talks between the two countries. He urged Pakistan to play an “honest role” in combating terror.
Promising cooperation with Afghanistan, Putin said: “This refers both to the possibility of restoring what was done by the former Soviet Union, and to new projects.”
The Russian leader congratulated Karzai on the observer status Afghanistan was given at the SCO during the two-day summit.
Karzai greeted Putin on his victory in the recent presidential election and hoped that he would lead Russia -- Afghanistan’s great neighbour -- to even greater prosperity.
The regional security grouping includes Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Mongolia, India, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan have observer status.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov prioritised his country’s participation in the restoration of the Afghan economy. About 150 facilities in the country had been built with USSR assistance, he added.
“Russian companies are ready to deal with their restoration,” Lavrov told reporters in Astana. He also referred to Putin’s remarks that Moscow was willing to work out new projects in Afghanistan.
Reconstruction of the House of Russian Science and Culture in Kabul would begin this year, he said, adding the facility was destroyed during the war.
Pledging more scholarships to Afghan students for studies in Russia, he said: “We will continue to provide assistance in equipping Afghan security forces; it is our contribution to combat effectiveness and readiness of Afghan forces to control their country after the withdrawal of the international coalition.”
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