Russia, Pakistan urge better Afghan security training

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Russia and Pakistan on Friday urged the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan to step up the training of local security forces as it completes its planned staged withdrawal.

The call by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari was joined during a regional summit by Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai and Tajik leader Emomali Rahmon.

"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.

"We are ready to develop our cooperation with Afghanistan both in economic terms and in supporting a dialogue on security issues," Medvedev said during a separate meeting with the Afghan president.

About 10,000 US troops are due to leave Afghanistan this year as part of a gradual drawdown through the end of 2014.

US President Barack Obama announced in June another 23,000 American troops would leave Afghanistan by the end of next summer and leave behind a 65,000-strong force.

Russia has voiced concern over the region's future security but firmly rejects the idea of getting directly involved in Afghanistan after losing a devastating war there during the Soviet era.

Medvedev stressed Friday that the new Afghan force should be able to "independently provide for the defence capabilities of the state, and combat extremist groups and drug traffickers."

© 2011 AFP

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