Four-way talks start in Russia, Medvedev promises aid to Pakistan
Talks between the presidents of Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan got underway in the Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday, with President Dmitry Medvedev promising aid to flood-ridden Pakistan, dpa reported.
"We grieve with you and are ready to provide all possible help," Medvedev told his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari, according to the Interfax news agency.
Both presidents said they want to cooperate more closely - Zardari is to visit Moscow soon and has invited Medvedev to Pakistan. India has traditionally been Russia's ally in the region.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon were also present at the summit in the Black Sea resort, the second of its kind to take place between the four countries. Last year's talks took place in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.
Medvedev also emphasized that he wanted to increase cooperation with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism and drug-smuggling. Joint projects in the energy, metalwork and railway sectors were also planned.
Russia regards drug-smuggling from Pakistan and Afghanistan as a threat. This year, units from the Russian Interior Ministry began training 225 Afghan policemen, who are also intended to tackle the problem of drug dealers.
According to the Kremlin, Russia is hoping to win contracts from Afghanistan to supply helicopters. In a bid to counter NATO allies in the region, Russia also wants to provide training for the pilots and supply replacement parts for Soviet-made helicopters still in use in Afghanistan.
According to observers, Russia is also looking to strengthen its hand in the region because it fears that the US does not have the situation in Afghanistan under control.
But after the Soviet army's defeat in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Moscow has declined to intervene militarily again. dpa mau hl amh Author: Ulf Mauder