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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Karzai Asks Putin for Aid

ReutersInterim Afghan leader Karzai meeting with President Putin in the Kremlin on Tuesday to request help in rebuilding Afghanistan.
Afghanistan's interim prime minister, Hamid Karzai, reached out Tuesday to the Russian government for aid in rebuilding his country, shattered by a generation of war since the 1979 Soviet invasion.

Karzai, who arrived Monday evening in Moscow on a three-day visit, conferred with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and later met with President Vladimir Putin.

"Russia has no other goals in Afghanistan except one -- to see an independent, prosperous, neutral and friendly Afghanistan," Putin said welcoming Karzai in the Kremlin. "There have been different periods in our relations, but we are neighbors and our duty is to develop bilateral relations to the benefit of our peoples."

Karzai thanked Russia for helping form the interim administration in his country and said he wanted to focus on "rebuilding Afghanistan and developing friendly trade and business ties between our countries."

"I hope that the development of friendly ties between Afghanistan and Russia will help stability in the whole region," Karzai said.

Russian and Afghan delegations signed 17 agreements on deliveries of Russian industrial equipment and assistance in rebuilding some of the about 140 Soviet-built industrial and infrastructure facilities in Afghanistan.

Russia, which has supported the U.S.-led anti-terror operation, has been eager to develop close ties with the new Afghan government and pledged to help rebuild Afghanistan's shattered industry and set up a modern military. Numerous Afghan officials have visited Moscow in recent weeks.

Russia provided military aid to the opposition alliance fighting Afghanistan's Taliban militia, and since the U.S.-led military campaign began last fall, Russia has also contributed $12 million of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko.

Karzai's Moscow tour came as hundreds of U.S.-allied Afghan fighters swept into the frigid mountains of eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, moving tanks into position for a final push to eradicate al-Qaida fighters.

Karzai sent up to 1,000 additional troops to the region, which he called the "last main base" of al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

But Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, during a visit to the United States, warned that it would take a "very long time" to squelch the resistance, Itar-Tass and Interfax reported Tuesday.

Ivanov said he didn't think that international peacekeepers have achieved "any significant positive results."

"A large part of Afghanistan isn't under anybody's control yet," Ivanov told reporters in Washington. "If armed groups of 200 to 300 people don't march along the roads, it will be very difficult to destroy them from the air," he added sarcastically.