The presidents of Pakistan and Russia, two states with a history of difficult relations with Kabul, on Wednesday backed the Afghan government's fight against rebels at a rare summit meeting.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hosted Afghan and Pakistan counterparts Hamid Karzai and Asif Ali Zardari in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, its balmy shores a stark contrast from the battle with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.
Medvedev assured Karzai of Moscow's full backing in a region where Russia has played a major role from the so-called "Great Game" against Britain in the 19th century to the present day.
"We support the fight of the Afghan government against terrorism and are ready to fully help in this direction," Medvedev told Karzai in a bilateral meeting before the full summit.
"We live in the same region -- this creates common problems and common prospects," the Russian president added.
Karzai thanked Medvedev for Moscow's support and invited him to visit his conflict-torn country. "Afghanistan will need the support of friends and great countries like Russia."
Afghanistan meanwhile has consistently accused Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency of supporting Taliban insurgents, allegations furiously denied by Islamabad. Zardari however told Medvedev the world should "stand together... We can do it, we can do it altogether. We should support the Afghan people."
Zardari had originally been planning a two-day visit to Russia but the situation with the floods means his visit has been cut to a few hours and he will not even attend lunch, officials in Islamabad have said. "Pakistan will come out of this a stronger nation," Zardari told Medvedev. "We have... the capabilities, we have the people, and all tragedies always unite nations. This tragedy will again unite us."
Also taking part in the four-way summit meeting is Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmon, whose country borders Afghanistan.
Moscow had made clear it has no plans to send troops to Afghanistan but like several other ex-Soviet states has allowed NATO states to use its airspace for the transit of equipment.
The meeting is the second such four-way meeting of the heads of state, the first taking place in the Tajik capital Dushanbe in July 2009.
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