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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Voices Worries About Afghanistan

APPutin and Belarus' Alexander Lukashenko at Thursday's meeting in Moscow.
President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia and other former Soviet republics were concerned about terrorist training bases in Afghanistan and that country's booming drug trade.

Speaking after a meeting of leaders of six former Soviet republics, all members of the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization, Putin said terrorists in Afghanistan enjoyed some foreign backing.

"We are seriously concerned about terrorists' training bases continuing to function on Afghan territory, some with direct involvement of some secret services," Putin said, without elaborating. "Afghanistan also has remained the source of increasing drug trafficking."

Members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which unites Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus and Armenia, have long expressed their worries about drugs and instability spilling over from Afghanistan.

Authorities in Uzbekistan, which is not a member of the organization, said militants from Afghanistan helped stage May's uprising in the Uzbek city of Andijan.

At a separate meeting of security officials from former Soviet republics, a senior Russian official said militants who underwent training in international terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan had used Iran and Central Asian nations for transit.

Yury Sapunov, the head of the anti-terrorist department at the Federal Security Service, also said some of the militants fighting in Chechnya and other restive Caucasus regions in Russia's south had come from Western Europe.

"Channels for bringing terrorists to the North Caucasus begin in Western European countries and run through Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia," Sapunov said, Interfax and Itar-Tass reported.

Sapunov reaffirmed Moscow's criticism of the United States and other Western nations for their refusal to extradite Chechen rebel leaders. He said FSB agents in Chechnya had killed 58 militants since the beginning of the year.

During Thursday's meeting, the treaty organization's members signed an agreement to foster cooperation in training military personnel and set up a commission intended to promote closer ties between their defense industries.

Putin said member states were also planning to develop a joint air defense system and build up their collective rapid reaction forces. These forces could be used for peacekeeping operations, Putin said.

Putin said after the talks that the group planned to establish contacts with NATO.