From Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday offered Pakistan support in dealing with catastrophic floods as he hosted the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan for talks on efforts to stabilize the region.
A Russian Emergency Situations Ministry plane delivered relief supplies to Pakistan on Tuesday, and another such flight will be conducted Thursday. The four presidents are expected to issue a statement after their talks urging stronger international support for the flood victims.
The four-way talks at Medvedev’s seaside residence will also focus on fighting terrorism and drugs spreading from Afghanistan. The Russian president has previously held similar talks, seeking to strengthen Russia’s clout in the volatile region.
NATO has urged Russia to provide helicopters and training for the Afghan air force and to train more local police. Moscow has responded that it is willing to help — fearing that a return to power by Taliban extremists would destabilize ex-Soviet Central Asia and threaten Russia’s security — but not for free and suggested that NATO pay the costs.
The Russian support for NATO- and U.S.-led operations so far has been limited to offering transit for railway shipments of non-lethal supplies and air corridors for weapons supplies, as supply routes through Pakistan have come under increased Taliban attack. (Photo: AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service)