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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, Afghan colleagues,
I am pleased to have this chance to continue our regular contacts. I want to welcome you, Mr President, to Sochi. This is our first meeting here in the south of Russia, but I think the climate here is just what we need for communicating and discussing various issues.
But before making a few introductory remarks, I would like to start by congratulating you, Mr President, and the entire Afghan people on the upcoming holiday marking the restoration of your independence. Tomorrow is a national holiday in your country. This is always important in any country’s life, and all the more so at a difficult time, such as Afghanistan is currently traversing.
I think that we have every reason for saying that we have made substantial progress in our relations. We meet often and regularly – at summits, in bilateral format, and today, after this bilateral meeting, we will take part in four-party talks.
I hope that all of this will ultimately translate into development in our economic relations, because this is important for Afghanistan today. Russia is ready to build up economic ties with our Afghan partners. Today, we will examine a number of specific issues.
There is no question that coordinating our foreign policy is very important, and this is something we should do in several different areas. One of these areas is counterterrorism, which we discussed just a few minutes ago. Russia totally supports Afghanistan’s efforts to restore civil peace in the country and overcome the difficulties that recent years have brought. Of course, we will continue to support the Afghan Government’s efforts to fight terrorism and will do everything we can to help in this respect.
I think it is also very important to continue our joint efforts in preventing drugs trafficking which is a common problem. This is not just Afghanistan’s problem, but is a common problem for all countries in the region, including the Russian Federation. Our action therefore must be synchronised and consistent.
There are also other foreign policy matters traditionally on our agenda. We live in a common region and this confronts us with common problems and common prospects. I want to discuss all of these different issues with you today, Mr President. Once more, I welcome you to the south of Russia, to the Black Sea, and I hope that you will like it here, even though this is just a brief visit.
I give you the floor.
President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai: Thank you very much, Mr President. As always, you are a very kind and generous host, and for you to invite us to this extremely beautiful city of Sochi is one more sign of your generosity and good humanliness toward us.
I really enjoyed seeing this place on arrival last night, from the lights, and this morning, as I looked up.
Mr President, before I go on to talk about the issues we have, may I express on behalf of the Afghan people our sorrow at these devastating fires that engulfed parts of Russian forests and close to the urban areas for almost three weeks, and my hope that you will get the much-needed rain as soon as possible so that those fires go away. Though we know for a great country like yours, with the strong economy, with the resilient people, with the vast territory, that’s not a problem – but still. It is a difficulty, and we share our feelings with you.
Mr President, in this bilateral setting of ours today, let me once again thank you for your concern for Afghanistan, and for your very clear words of support for Afghanistan that you just expressed – the absolute support that you offered Afghanistan in the war on terror, and that you say that narcotics is not only an Afghan problem, which is indeed not only an Afghan problem.
And indeed, on both accounts, on account of the war on terror and on account of the counter-narcotics activity, Afghanistan will need the support of friends and great countries like Russia to overcome it.
We are looking forward, Mr President, to your visit to Afghanistan, which I hope will take place as soon as possible, as your schedule allows it. And Afghanistan is more than happy, rather privileged, to engage with Russia in all forms of economic, cultural, and political relations.