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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

At CIS Summit, Putin Seeks Stability

ReutersPutin and Nazarbayev riding up a chairlift at the Chimbulak ski resort in Kazakhstan during the informal summit on Friday.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- President Vladimir Putin said Friday that with the U.S.-led anti-terrorism operation winding down in Afghanistan, the focus must now shift to ensuring that stability returns permanently to the region.

Speaking to the leaders of 10 former Soviet republics during an informal summit in Kazakhstan, Putin said Russia wanted to play a leading role in restoring the Afghan economy and he called on Afghanistan's other neighbors in Central Asia to do their part, too.

"Russia has had a positive experience cooperating with Afghanistan, in particular in the sphere of building roads, transport infrastructure, energy systems and in providing social and cultural help," he said. "In these spheres, Moscow may offer the most active participation."

To the surprise of many in the West, Putin offered Russia's firm support to the U.S.-led anti-terrorist campaign. Russia did not participate in the military campaign, but Moscow has gone to great efforts to court the new Afghan government, promising humanitarian and military aid.

On Friday, Russian officials told visiting Afghan Interior Minister Younis Qanooni that they would provide training for Afghanistan's police force and consider other proposals to help rebuild the country.

During the informal summit, which officially opened Friday at a Kazakh ski resort, the leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States also discussed ways to combat drug trafficking and to expand economic ties between the member nations. Central Asia is a key transit route for heroin moving from Afghanistan to Russia and on to Western Europe.

On the sidelines of the gathering, Putin met with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to discuss coordinating their energy policies. "In particular, we discussed the transport and supply of gas to the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Europe and Asia," Putin told reporters.

Following the summit, Putin and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev met Saturday to discuss how to improve the functioning of the CIS.

"We found that we have no insoluble problems. We are beginning a new stage of integration, to ignite integration processes equal to the West European ones," Nazarbayev said.

Russia has been given the task of drafting documents on renovating the CIS, and they are to be considered at a future summit, he said.

"The leaders of the CIS have synchronized their watches," Nazarbayev said before meeting with Putin. The Russian leader echoed the metaphor. "A timely checking of the clocks and exchange of opinion was needed," he said of the Friday summit.