Russia hopes new parliament will unify Afghanistan - Medvedev
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressed hope on Friday that the new Afghan parliament will help bring the country together and restore full-fledged Afghan statehood, RIA Novosti reported.
"We expect that the new parliament will become an integral political body that on one hand will contribute to national reconciliation, consolidate all vital, patriotic forces of Afghanistan, and on the other hand will help the president continue along his course toward the restoration of full-fledged Afghan statehood," Medvedev said during a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai that followed talks in Moscow.
Parliamentary elections took place in the southern Central Asian state on September 18. The first session of the new parliament was planned to take place on January 23, but was postponed earlier this week following a request by a special tribunal investigating electoral violations during the polls.
The tribunal said it needed additional time to study reports of mass falsifications that allegedly took place during the elections.
"The president has informed me of the processes taking place in Afghanistan," Medvedev told journalists, adding that Russia welcomed the Afghan polls.
Russia wants to see Afghanistan as an independent and prosperous state with effective state institutions, Medvedev said. International efforts play a significant role in stabilizing the situation in the country, and Russia also contributes to this process by providing its territory for NATO military transit to Afghanistan.
"We intend to further comply with all of our obligations aimed at supporting Afghanistan in this very uneasy task," he said.
However, he added, Russia hopes that Afghanistan will eventually be able to assure its security on its own.
"I would like all international forces deployed in Afghanistan...to leave Afghanistan with honor and respect after they conclude their duties related to maintaining peace and security in Afghanistan," he said. "This will be for the good of Afghanistan and the entire region, and therefore, of the Russian Federation."
International troops, now numbering about 130,000, are planned to begin leaving Afghanistan in July 2011, gradually handing over responsibility for security to the local military.
During the talks, Karzai invited Medvedev to pay an official visit to Afghanistan, which the Russian president accepted, the two leaders said in a joint statement published after the talks.