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Russia ready to cooperate with US on Afghanistan: Medvedev


Moscow : Russia will cooperate with US President Barack Obama on Afghanistan and allow US and NATO forces safe passage through its southern territory to support operations against terrorism, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday.

“We are ready for full-fledged cooperation with all countries on the issue of assuring security in Afghanistan, including the United States,” Medvedev said on an official visit to Uzbekistan, a central Asian nation which shares a border with Afghanistan.

“We hope the new US administration will have greater success than the previous one in resolving the Afghanistan issue,” he said after talks with his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov.

Medvedev’s comments seemed to hold with the Kremlin’s cautious line of hope for better ties with Washington following a souring of relations over a range of security issues with former president George W. Bush.

Karimov, in turn, welcomed the new US initiative to review its policy in Afghanistan, but warned that US forces were becoming entrenched in the country.

The two leaders called for greater involvement of regional powers in Afghanistan, suggesting that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a grouping of central Asian states, China and Russia, could discuss how to step up its efforts in a summit on Afghanistan.

Russia has sought to bolster its military ties in central Asia through the loose grouping of states, but it competes with China for influence within the organization.

Karimov, who used brutal force to quash an uprising in the city of Andizhan in 2005, expressed concern that the fighting in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan was fuelling an increase in radical movements in the regions.

Medvedev said extremists forces were only growing stronger in Afghanistan, saying “poverty continues to fuel terrorism in the country.”

Russia had agreed to allow NATO supply routes to Afghanistan before its war with Georgia in August strained ties with the military alliance.

Russia and NATO will hold their first summit next week since the bloc froze relations with Moscow over its actions in Georgia last year.