Monday, January 31, 2011

Afghanistan-Russia Cooperation

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had gone to Russia recently leading a high-ranking delegation on a formal invitation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. During his two-day visit to Russia, Afghan President Karzai met Russian President Medvedev at the Kremlin House. Both presidents took part in a joint news conference after the meeting.

Welcoming his Afghan counterpart Karzai at the news conference, the Russian president expressed the determination that Russian would extend its cooperation with Afghanistan in trade and economic sector, and the trade transaction would be increased from last year's estimated $500 million.

Referring to strengthening of economic cooperation with Afghanistan, Medvedev said that in addition to modernizing the Naghlu power dam, central wind projects, factories of chemical fertilizers, and reconstruction of the Salang tunnel, Russia will also initiate power production projects in other provinces of the country, which will resolve problems of Afghanistan regarding power.

Boosting Defense Relations
The Russian president said at the news conference that in addition to cooperation with Afghanistan in the civil sector, his country will also continue providing support in the military sectors, which will start from extending the training of the National Army and the National Police of the country.

Similarly, he added that Russia would also increase the number of its experts in civil as well as military sectors in Afghanistan.

Referring to provision of academic scholarships to Afghan youths in Russia, Medvedev said: 'In the field of promoting and strengthening education in Afghanistan, we will continue our cooperation with the country, so that its youths receive higher education in Russia. Just now a number of students of Afghanistan are engaged in study in different fields in Russia.'

Medvedev announced the support of his country to the peace and national reconciliation process in Afghanistan, saying Russia would increase its support and cooperation in strengthening security foundations for establishing peace and stability in the country so that Afghanistan being an independent country gets strong national foundations and it can independently protect its land after withdrawal of international forces, and achieve considerable progress in different sectors with each passing year.

Fight Against Terrorism
Pointing to the international fight against terrorism, the Russian president said: 'Russia is cooperating in the field of providing transit facilities to international forces for establishment of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region, so that these forces are able to further extend and make effective the joint struggle against terrorism.'

Medvedev said that Russian and Afghanistan had ancient relations, and termed Karzai's visit to Russian opening of a new chapter in the relations between the two countries. He said that strengthening and promoting the relations could further protect national interests of the two countries.

At the news conference, Afghan President Karzai thanked the Russian president and the people of the country for the better hospitality, and termed his visit to Russia very fruitful and successful in political and economic sector.

Referring to the ancient relations between Afghanistan and Russia, Karzai said: 'We have been having ties with each other for a long time, and now we are trying to have further close and deep relations.'

He acknowledged the support of Russia with Afghanistan in different sectors during the past 10 years, and hoped that this support would be further enhanced and extended in future.
During the news conference, the Afghan president sought the Russian president's cooperation in timely completion of the process of transferring responsibility of security from international forces to the Afghan forces.

He added: 'We demand of Russia to provide every kind of support in the field of training the National Army and the National Police of Afghanistan so that the Afghan forces are able to independently defend their land after the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan.'
Similarly, Karzai sought President Medvedev's support and cooperation in provision of scholarships to Afghan students and, similarly, reconstruction of projects carried out by the Soviet Union of the time in Afghanistan, and completion of a number of other projects, which have been left incomplete long ago.

At the news conference, Karzai invited Russian President Medvedev to visit Afghanistan at a suitable time, which he accepted.

Answering a question that United States is not repeating the mistake of the Soviet Union of the time in Afghanistan, the Russian president said that Russia was closely observing the mission of international forces in Afghanistan. He said: 'We want that their mission is successfully completed; that is why we are continuing our cooperation with them in the transit sector. Russia wants establishment of peace in the country and the region. International forces should not commit strategic mistakes that can become the reason for their failure.'

Russia is supporting Afghanistan so that its forces can protect their land themselves, and the international forces can leave Afghanistan one day with pride after completing their mission.
Replying to a question at the news conference regarding opening of a new chapter of relations between Afghanistan and Russia, Karzai said: 'Russia has very old relations with Afghanistan, the two countries understand each other well, and our relations have improved since 2002, and further promotion and strengthening of the relations is in the interest of both countries and the region.'

Similarly, Afghan President Karzai, and Russian President Medvedev also signed before the media a joint declaration of cooperation in different sectors between the two countries.

Similarly, before the press conference, Afghanistan Foreign Minister Dr Zalmay Rasool and Russian Economic Development Minister Livonia signed a trade and economic cooperation agreement in the presence of the presidents of the two countries, under which a number of projects will be initiated in the power production sector in different provinces of Afghanistan, including reconstruction of the Salang tunnel and central wind projects.

Afghan President Karzai met Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on 20 January. At the meeting held at the residence of the Russian prime minister, both sides stressed further promotion of political, economic, trade and cultural relations between the two countries.

Putin expressed the determination that his country would extend cooperation with Afghanistan in different sectors, saying: Russia is ready to provide support to Afghanistan in those fields where it needed the most.

On the second day of his visit to the Russia, Afghan President Karzai said in his address to students of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: 'As a great political and economic country, Russia is capable of supporting not only Afghanistan but also other countries of the world in different fields.'

The president said: 'Afghanistan and Russia have had mutual relations for a century. The said relations are very old and everlasting, and Afghanistan is among those countries which the Soviet Union of the time has helped in different fields and has completed many projects in this country.'

He said that the relations between Afghanistan and Russia had grown stronger during the past 10 years and Russia was among those first countries whose heads he had met in 2002.
About the economic and trade relations between Russia and Afghanistan and similarly the military support, Karzai said that the approximation of the annual transaction between the two countries now reached $500 million and Russia was the country that did have economic and trade cooperation with Afghanistan and also supported them in training the National Army and the National Police.

Referring to the presence of international community in Afghanistan, the president said: 'In a situation when Afghanistan has relations with the United States, NATO and many other countries in different fields, it also holds very good bilateral relations with Russia; each of which is worth significance in its own place and no one can take the place of other.'

Referring to the better terms and conditions for investment in Afghanistan, the president said: 'Now Afghanistan is offering better terms and conditions for Russian investors, which will enable them to expand their projects by investing in Afghanistan.'
New Phase of Ties
About the fight against narcotics, Karzai said: 'The fight against this menace requires wide global efforts. Afghanistan is unable to fight against this phenomenon alone because the international mafia is involved in producing and transporting narcotics. We all should launch a strong and wide struggle for eliminating this menace.'

President Karzai met the head and members of the Russian Trade House and a number of traders of the country at the hall of the Trade House of the said country on 21 January.
Referring to trade relations between Afghanistan and Russia at the meeting, the Afghan president said that trade relations between the two countries existed for a long time, even before the formation of the Soviet Union, an example of which is the purchase of 50,000 tons of raisin from Afghanistan during the period of the Soviet Union. Construction of the Salang tunnel had also start during that time.

Pointing to the new phase of relations between Russia and Afghanistan, Karzai said that Afghanistan and Russia had entered into a new phase of their relations since 2002 and the approximation of transaction between the two countries reached $500 million per annum, now.

Free Trade Economy
Karzai added: 'Keeping in view that Afghanistan and Russia are situated in the same region, this feature can prepare ground for investment for traders of the two countries. He informed that Afghanistan welcomed the initiatives and presence of Russian investors in the country.'
He said: 'At present, Afghanistan has made quick progress in the telephonic service sector, and this country depended on free trade economy, its laws have also been formed on this basis.'
Similarly, about the performance of both Afghan and foreign joint companies in Afghanistan, the president said that the aforementioned companies were making good profits. He added that the economy of Afghanistan was improving; our country had $180 million in its coffers in 2002 which has now reached approximately $5 billion.

Similarly, pointing to natural reserves of Afghanistan, the president said: 'The natural reserves of Afghanistan are much richer than estimated in the past. According to initial studies, Afghanistan had natural reserves worth $3 trillion. On the basis of this study, I invite you to take advantage from the opportunities and sources available in Afghanistan, and invest in the country.
During the meeting, the Russian investors showed willingness to make investment in Afghanistan in different fields and demanded to functionalize the ports of Hairatan and Torghandi for the facilitation of trade between Afghanistan and Russia. Similarly, they showed their willingness in reconstruction of power production factories, mono-technique institutes and the Kabul Polytechnic, which were established at the time of the former Soviet Union.

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