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Asia

Pakistan & Russia express support for Afghanistan

In light of the announced withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the situation in the war-torn country was high on the agenda at a rare summit meeting on security and drugs in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, left, and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari shake hands as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, center, looks on

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, left, and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari shake hands as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, center, looks on

The presidents of Afghanistan, Russia, Pakistan and Tajikistan were meeting for the second time only.

"Let me once again thank you for your concern for Afghanistan," Afghan President Hamid Karzai told his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev at a bilateral meeting before the full summit began. "Afghanistan will need the support of friends and from great countries like Russia," he added.

"We support the fight of the Afghan government against terrorism and are ready to fully help in this direction," the Russian president responded.

Russia wants to increase influence

Karzai also invited Medvedev to Afghanistan but the Kremlin said that no such trip was on the cards for the moment. Nor does Russia reportedly plan to send any soldiers to Afghanistan.

Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989

Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989

Russia has repeatedly insisted that military action alone will not solve the problems of Afghanistan. It has criticized civilian casualties and kept a wary distance from the difficulties of the NATO forces.

Analysts have speculated that Russia is looking to increase its influence in Afghanistan; just 20 years after Soviet troops withdrew from the country after a 10-year-long bloody war that cost over 13,000 Soviet lives. Estimates put Afghan casualties at between 100,000 and a million.

Zardari keeps his trip short

Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari, who cut short his visit to Russia in light of the floods in his country, said that the world "should stand together. We can do it altogether. We should support the Afghan people."

There has been tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan over allegations that the Pakistani secret services have been supporting Taliban insurgents, which Islamabad has denied.

20 million Pakistanis have been affected by the floods

20 million Pakistanis have been affected by the floods

After President Medvedev offered his condolences to him, the Pakistani president said that he was sure Pakistan would emerge "a stronger nation". He said his country had "the capabilities and the people" and added that the Pakistanis would be united by the tragedy as "all tragedies unite nations."

Medvedev said his country was "ready to render any help necessary."

Zardari recently came under acute criticism for continuing his visit to Europe although it was clear that the scale of the floods, which have killed 1,600 people already and affected 20 million, was beyond any other natural disaster Pakistan had ever experienced.

The meeting between the presidents of Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan is the second of its kind. The first four-way meeting took place in the Tajik capital Dushanbe in July 2009.

act / AFP / Reuters
Editor: Disha Uppal

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