Russia on Friday lamented a lack of progress in joint energy projects with Pakistan and Afghanistan that could help bring stability to the volatile region as President Dmitry Medvedev met his counterparts for a security summit.
Meeting his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari and Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai for a four-way summit that also included Tajikistan, Medvedev said Russia was ready to invest “millions of dollars” in the joint energy projects.
“There’s a whole range of projects that have been on the table for a long time which have seen no movement forward and which should be implemented,” Medvedev said in the Tajik capital Dushanbe.
(Read: No progress in Pakistan, Afghanistan eco projects, says Medvedev)
“It is time to move from words to deeds,” he said, referring to a project codenamed CASA-1000, whose aim will be sending power from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a transnational gas pipeline.
Speaking in Dushanbe, Medvedev said Russia was ready to invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” into the CASA-1000 project that could send 1,000 megawatts of electricity annually from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“But for it to happen, necessary organisational decisions should be taken first, we have to be invited,” Medvedev told reporters after the talks. He also confirmed Russia’s interest in a key transnational gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.
The four leaders also adopted a joint declaration stressing the importance of linking their countries through modern highways and railroads.
“The immediate focus has to be on increasing connectivity,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told reporters.
“When this comes, investment comes after that.” She stressed Islamabad was keen to strengthen its Soviet-era ties with Moscow. “There has been historical investment in Pakistan which is still known as Russian investment and we want to give further boost to that,” she said.
The four countries 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 heads of state emphasise that 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,” the leaders’ joint statement said. The four nations also agreed to work closely to combat extremism and drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime.
(Read: Whither Afghanistan?)
Medvedev told reporters, “I believe all of my colleagues are united on one issue: the responsibility for what is happening in our region will in the final account inevitably rest with our countries – Russia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Zardari meets Afghan, Tajik president
President Asif Ali Zardari proposed a trilateral trade agreement to include Tajikistan along the line of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement.
(Read: Zardari arrives in Tajikistan, seeks trade, energy, and anti-terror relations)
Meanwhile, President Zardari also met with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon at the Qasr-e-Millat, Dushanbe, on Thursday to discuss matters relating to bilateral relations, the regional situation and common challenges.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.