Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President,
I am pleased to have this chance to meet with you. This is our first meeting and it is taking place here at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. We have already started discussing today a number of issues concerning Afghanistan and Russian-Afghan relations, and we will continue these discussions now at the bilateral level.
Our countries have long-standing and deep-reaching ties. Our relations have known difficult times and bright moments. I think that we are entirely capable of writing a new page in the history of Russian-Afghan relations, all the more so as the threats, problems and challenges our countries face today are, unfortunately, very similar and indeed universal in character.
We are therefore ready to discuss bilateral relations and international issues with our Afghan partners, but before beginning our talks, I would like to express my condolences over the recent incident in which a considerable number of civilians lost their lives.
Hamid Karzai (retranslated from Russian): Thank you very much, Mr Medvedev.
I am very pleased to meet with you. You have made a very good start to your presidency. I fully agree with you that Russia and Afghanistan have historic relations. We are close neighbours and we share much in our culture and traditions. Our peoples know each other well. Speaking about the former Soviet Union, there were good times and bad times of course, but as far as Russia is concerned we have very good relations.
Both countries want to deepen and expand these relations and establish closer economic and cultural ties. As far as our relations’ past goes, Afghanistan has inherited a lot from Russia: we have a common defence complex, common defence opportunities, and many Afghans know Russian.
Before we begin our talks I would first like to thank you for the humanitarian aid in the form of wheat that you have delivered to our country, and also for the four billion dollars that you have given us for developing our country’s health and education systems. I also want to congratulate you on your election to the post of President of the Russian Federation.
Dmitry Medvedev: This is not such an easy job, as you know so well yourself.
Hamid Karzai: Yes, I have seven years experience as President now.