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Regional Leaders In Dushanbe Discuss Drugs, Security, Trade

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Dushanbe for the summit
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Dushanbe for the summit
At a regional summit today, the presidents of Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan discussed how to prevent illegal drugs moving through the region, and the security measures needed to do so.

In a joint statement following their talks in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, Russia's Dmitry Medvedev, Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari, Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai, and Tajikistan's Emomali Rahmon agreed to work more closely to combat extremism and drug trafficking.

The leaders also urged the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan to step up the training of local security forces as it completes its planned staged withdrawal.

The leaders said that the "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."

Medvedev, who also held bilateral meetings with Karzai and Zardari, said that true stability and rule of law in the region can only be achieved by local governments.

The four leaders also pledged cooperation on regional energy projects and transport corridors.

Meeting on the sidelines of the summit, Medvedev and Rahmon signed an agreement on cooperation in guarding Tajikistan's frontier with Afghanistan and discussed extending Russia's use of military facilities in Tajikistan.

The two presidents watched as another agreement on cooperation in securing Tajikistan's southern border was signed by Russia's Federal Security Service and Tajikistan's State Committee for National Security.

During the last year, Russian officials have been speaking about a return of Russian border guards to Tajikistan. The Russian guards withdrew from the Tajik-Afghan border in 2005.

Medvedev and Rahmon also agreed to sign a formal agreement early next year extending the presence of Russia's 201st Division in Tajikistan for another 49 years.

compiled from agency reports
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by: SLt David Lewis from: Kabul, Afghanistan
September 04, 2011 10:25
I applaud and agree with Mr. Medvedev’s call to speed up training of the Afghan forces. I will pass that message on to the 1000’s of trainers and mentors from 35 countries who have been here on the ground for years. As a member of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan (NTM-A) I am privileged to see, on a daily basis, the progress of the Afghan National Security Forces. Every day their capacity and capability increases as they assume leadership roles in building a self-sustaining and enduring force. Quantity is important, but quality takes time. In the words of Major General D. Michael Day, “We can accelerate mass; we cannot accelerate quality.” As a result of the coalition’s leadership and push for professionalism, the ANSF will number over 300,000 by October of 2011.

I also agree with Mr Medvedev when he states “the new Afghan force should be able to independently provide for the defense capabilities of the state, and combat extremist groups and drug traffickers.” I am pleased to say that in seven areas of Afghanistan, encompassing 20 percent of the population, Afghan Army and Police are already leading security efforts. I invite him to read a great article on the NTM-A website at http://ntm-a.com/wordpress2/?p=6360 . Or learn from the Australians at http://www.smh.com.au/national/handover-hits-stride-as-afghan-troops-step-up-20110902-1jq45.html . I think he will be impressed with the defense capabilities of the Afghans as they are apply the lessons learned from their coalition mentors.

I am pleased that the summit focussed on ‘joint efforts for peace and security in the region and for increased cooperation in communication, transportation and energy.’ He will be pleased to learn that GDP has increased from $170 under the Taliban to $1,000 per capita in 2010, almost all Afghans now have access to basic health services (only nine percent did in 2002), school enrollment increased from 900,000 (mainly boys) to almost seven million (37 percent girls), and women now serve in government. Most of the country is now connected via mobile phones and highways. The powerful force of social media is altering the landscape as over one million Afghans have internet access and over 215,000 have facebook accounts.

As someone whose boots are caked with Afghan mud, I applaud those who attended the summit, and agree that ‘It is time to move from words to deeds’.

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