UFA, RUSSIA: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday warned the Islamic State group is reaching into Afghanistan, as he hosted a regional security summit drawing to a close.
"We noted the growing activities of the IS group militants who have extended their tentacles into this country," Putin said at a press conference after a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Russian city of Ufa.
Putin then held his first historic bilateral talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who has struggled to secure the country from IS extremists, and has launched talks with a revitalised Taliban.
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Ghani also met with the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the SCO summit – which includes China and several Central Asian countries, and admitted India and Pakistan on Friday.
Ghani this week sent a team of negotiators to Pakistan to launch talks with the Taliban, seeking to end the insurgents' 13-year fight amid continuing suicide attacks.
The SCO leaders earlier discussed Afghanistan security problems following the departure of the international military contingent, and agreed to "support the efforts of Afghanistan's government" to establish a state "free of terrorism."
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Putin said that a decade of international military presence there "did not bring about a quality change for the better in the situation" in security terms, while Central Asian states were worried that religious radicals will spread to their territories.
"There is a real threat of the trickling of instability into neighbouring countries. We, neighbours of Afghanistan cannot ignore this," said Islam Karimov, President of Uzbekistan, which is the most populous country in Central Asia.
The departure of the international forces from Afghanistan "cannot but worry" nearby countries, he said, because "the vacuum can be filled by various terrorist forces."