Afghanistan Focus For Better Ties with U.S. – Moscow
(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, June 3, 2013) Russia-US relations could be improved through collaboration in Afghanistan, despite having suffered a difficult phase recently, a senior Russian MP and foreign affairs spokesman said on Monday.
Mikhail Margelov, head of the international affairs committee at the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, made his comments after a meeting with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in Singapore.
“Hagel, who has always advocated a practical approach toward collaboration between our countries, said we need to work together in search of a way out of the emerging impasse,” Margelov said.
Afghanistan is one possible area of collaboration, he added.
“It is our shared opinion that we should start with interaction in areas where Russia and the US have concurring interests… on the tactical level, above all in Afghanistan,” he said. Russia is ready to help the West in the country’s post-crisis reconstruction, Margelov said.
Another area of collaboration could be joint operations against terrorists and extremists in Africa, particularly Somalia, Mali, and the Sahel, he said.
“Here, our interests are not in conflict but overlap, and that creates opportunities for working together,” Margelov said.
Moscow has been concerned by the situation near its southern borders ahead of the forthcoming withdrawal of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) from Afghanistan next year.
Nikolai Bordyuzha, General Secretary of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led intergovernmental military alliance of former Soviet states, has warned that a zone of instability will emerge in regions bordering Afghanistan, with the influence of extremist groups growing, and penetration of Islamist fundamentalist ideas in neighboring states.