August 18th, 2010
05:20 PM ET

4 presidents, 1 resort, multiple issues

The presidents of Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan held a quartet meeting in Russia's southern Black Sea resort of Sochi Wednesday, where they discussed the international battle against terror and the war on drugs, as well as economic issues, according to the Kremlin.

Earlier in the day, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held bilateral talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, the Kremlin said on its website.

(Photo above: Three of the four presidents — Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.)

This was the second such meeting of the four leaders. The first was a little more than a year ago, on July 30, 2009, in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe.

According to the Kremlin, the agenda of the four-way talks included Afghanistan's economic and social recovery, the international fight against terrorism and the drug trade, as well as economic cooperation and joint energy projects among the nations.

Medvedev told his counterparts that one of his biggest concerns is drug trafficking from Afghanistan, according to Russian State TV. Tackling that problem, he said, requires a combined effort.

"The response to this drug threat can only be a joint one. Neither Afghanistan itself nor Russia nor any other individual state can handle it," he explained. "It is our common problem, and we should act together."

Outside of the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters that Russia will soon "hand over our next shipment of small arms and ammunition for the Afghan Interior Ministry and will step up personnel training for the law enforcement structures of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," according to the Interfax news agency.

Moscow is also studying a proposal to send 20 Russian helicopters to Afghanistan, but is waiting on NATO to weigh in on the issue of financing the project, Lavrov said.

Medvedev praised the efforts of the other three countries in fighting terrorism and extremism - problems he described as "the most difficult ones."

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon suggested signing a multilateral agreement in the war on terror, saying it would "bring our political and legal cooperation to a new level," Interfax reported.

"Our countries are destined to play quite an important role in ensuring the region's security and stable development," he added. "We call on the international community to form a united front against this evil and other factors that feed terrorism. I am convinced that poverty, unemployment and other acute social problems are the primary source for the ideas of intolerance, terrorism and extremism."

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Filed under: Karzai • Pakistan
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