DUSHANBE (Agencies) – Russia and Pakistan has urged the Nato in Afghanistan to step up training of local forces, while Russian president lamented slow pace of work on vital energy projects in Pakistan and Afghanistan, saying Moscow is ready to invest billions of dollars.The call by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on Friday to the coalition partners in Afghanistan for pacing up security training ahead of their planned withdrawal was joined by Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai and Tajik leader Emomali Rahmon during a quadrilateral regional summit in Dushanbe.
“The heads of state emphasise that reduction of foreign military presence in Afghanistan should be accompanied by adequate increase of efforts by the participants of the international coalition for training and arming Afghan national security structures,” the leaders’ joint statement said. The four nations also agreed to work more closely to combat extremism and drug trafficking along with organised crimes.
Speaking after the talks, Medvedev stated that security in Central Asia is the sole responsibility of the countries of the region. He said he believes that help from other countries is important but not crucial. “In the end, responsibility for what is going on in the region will fall on our countries – Russia, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Medvedev stressed, adding that it is a view shared by “all participants of today’s summit.”The Russian leader pointed out that currently a lot depends on partners “who help solve various tasks in the region.” However, these are non-regional powers, and in Dmitry Medvedev’s opinion it is necessary for the four states taking part in the Dushanbe summit to step up their efforts. “Otherwise, we take the risk that the great efforts we are undertaking are in vain,” the president explained. In particular, he was at pains to point out that Moscow is willing to develop political dialogue with Afghanistan.
Earlier, during the summit meeting the Russian president lamented a lack of progress in joint energy projects with Pakistan and Afghanistan in his meeting with his counterparts in the four-way summit. “There’s a whole range of projects that have been on the table for a long time which have seen no movement forward and which should be implemented,” Medvedev said in the Tajik capital Dushanbe. “It is time to move from words to deeds,” he said, referring to a project codenamed CASA-1000, whose aim will be sending power from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a trans-national gas pipeline.Medvedev said Russia was ready to invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” into the CASA-1000 project to send power from Tajikistan and fellow Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan and Pakistan. “But for it to happen, necessary organisational decisions should be taken first, we have to be invited,” Medvedev told reporters after the talks.
He also confirmed Russia’s interest in a key trans-national gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. The 1,700-kilometre (1,050-mile) Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline has been on hold for many years due to the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and economic reasons.The gas price has also been a contentious issue. “The question is at what price Turkmenistan would be selling gas to the project’s participants?” Russian energy minister Sergei Shmatko told reporters in Dushanbe. The TAPI pipeline aims to transport over 30 billion cubic metres of gas annually from the Dauletabad gas fields in southeast Turkmenistan and could become a cash cow for Afghanistan in transit fees.
There is a series of projects which have been on the table but there has been no progress in their implementation,” Medvedev concluded. These projects cover the transport, agriculture, chemical, construction and food industries.
On the other had, in his meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on the sideline of the summit, President Asif Ali Zardari proposed a trilateral trade agreement to include Tajikistan along the line of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement.