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21 Jan, 2011 08:08

Karzai invites Medvedev to visit Afghanistan

Karzai invites Medvedev to visit Afghanistan

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has met his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai in Moscow. The two leaders discussed trade cooperation, security, cultural issues and the pressing matter of countering international drug trafficking.

Hamid Karzai arrived in Moscow on Thursday evening on his first official visit to Russia. However, it is the fourth time the two presidents have held talks. In an interview with RT, Karzai praised the cooperation between Russia and Afghanistan and said, in particular, that Russians understand Afghans better than Americans do.

Economic cooperation as top priority

Speaking at a news conference after the summit, the Russian president said that economic cooperation was a priority in the development of relations between Moscow and Kabul. He pointed out many large-scale projects in which Russian companies have been restoring the infrastructure in Afghanistan and expressed hope that the cooperation would continue. Dmitry Medvedev also noted the joint projects in education and the importance of the fact that Russia was training not only civilian specialists for Afghanistan, but also military and law enforcement officers. The Russian president said that Russia welcomed the Afghan people’s independence. “Russia would like to see our neighbor as a prosperous and independent state with powerful state structures that could ensure the sovereign development of the country for decades to come,” Medvedev added that his nation was ready to assist Afghanistan in its desire to become a fully-pledged member of various international organizations.

Afghanistan very satisfied with Russia relations

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai  thanked his Russian counterpart for the “tremendous hospitality” he received in Moscow. He began his speech saying that his country is grateful to Russia for its contribution in the development of the Islamic Republic and noted that progress has been achieved in many areas of cooperation, including countering drug-trafficking. Karzai noted that Russia and Afghanistan are more than just close neighbors. “There are cultural and historic ties between our states…” he said, adding that these ties are very important. “We will do everything to develop them.” Hamid Karzai expressed hope that Russia will provide help to Afghanistan during the uneasy period of the transition of responsibility for security to the Afghan government. The republic’s president also said that the two discussed the revival of “essential” bilateral projects launched years ago. Karzai added that he hoped the relevant government authorities will now start working in that direction.   Overall, the president concluded, Afghanistan is “very satisfied” with the level of relations with Russia. But still, there is potential for further development and his country would like to keep the process moving. Hamid Karzai invited Dmitry Medvedev to the Islamic republic on an official visit. “We would be very happy and it would be a great honor for us to receive you in Afghanistan,” he said.

Praising Russian support

President Karzai pointed out relations between Russia and his country have a long history.“These relations go back to the pre-Soviet Union days. They actually go to the middle of the 19th Century,” he said. But of course the current phase of relations, which began in 2001 in spite of the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan, is “especially important”. And since then the relationship has seen considerable improvement, mainly due to Russia’s continuing support.

Helping international mission in Afghanistan

Medvedev said that the situation in Afghanistan was important for Russia. However, he pointed out that actual help was as important as observations and reminded the journalists that Moscow has approved a number of documents allowing cargo transit through Russian territory to aid the international task force in Afghanistan. “Finally Afghanistan should be able to provide its security and independence through its own resources,” the Russian president said.Speaking about the assessment of the activities of the US and international military forces in Afghanistan, the Russian president called upon the reporters not to hurry when drawing conclusions. He acknowledged that some mistakes had been made, and said that each incident must be thoroughly investigated, but noted that these were mistakes in tactics rather than strategy. As for strategic mistakes – the time for analysis has not come yet, the Russian president said, adding that we should wait until 2014 when Afghanistan is fully independent before drawing conclusions. Medvedev also said that a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan is important for the whole region, including Russia.

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