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Medvedev accepts invitation to visit Afghanistan

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday accepted an invitation to visit Afghanistan following talks with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, the two leaders said in a statement.

“Medvedev has gratefully accepted Hamid Karzai’s invitation to visit Afghanistan,” Russian news agencies quoted the joint statement as saying.

Karzai’s talks in Moscow marked the first official visit by an Afghan head of state since the war with the Soviet Union.

The two sides signed an economic cooperation agreement, with the two leaders vowing to expand trade ties that have recovered little since the decade-long Soviet invasion of Afghanistan ended in Moscow’s 1989 retreat.

Medvedev said he was supportive of international efforts to return peace and stability to the strife-torn nation, saying it was premature to speak of “strategic mistakes” being committed by the United States.

“Of course, we are very carefully watching the Afghan developments and what the Americans are doing. And I told the president today that we wish this mission success,” Medvedev said during a joint appearance with the Afghan leader.

The Russian leader added that “if we are talking about some sort of strategic mistakes, or substantial deficiencies, then I think that the time for such an analysis is not upon us yet.”

Karzai for his part called Russia “more than a close neighbour.

“We are closer than that because we have common cultural and historic values and ties. We will do everything possible to develop our relations,” Karzai said.