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Beginning of meeting with President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon

August 18, 2010, Sochi

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, please allow me to say a few words in opening this meeting. I will make a few introductory remarks and I suppose that the leaders of Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, who are present here today, will also make some brief statements for the media.

Today’s meeting is our second in this format, and in my view, this is very good, because it is a normal operational regional format. The more consultations we have in a regional format, the better it is for all of us, especially given that we still have some significant tensions in our region: there are the well-known difficulties with strengthening statehood in Afghanistan, and there is our common fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, and other threats, including withstanding and recovering from natural disasters.

In this regard, I would like to begin today’s general meeting by once again expressing my condolences to our colleague, President of Pakistan Mr Zardari, following the natural disasters that occurred in Pakistan resulting in the loss of many human lives and enormous destruction. Its full scope has yet to be assessed, and the international community must respond with a consolidated position, as is reflected in our draft joint declaration, and, I hope, will be reflected in the resolutions of the United Nations and regional institutions. We would all like to do our part in contributing to the rebuilding of housing and the restoration of normal life in Pakistan.

There is another topic that is clearly important for all of us. We first began our talks in a three-party format in Yekaterinburg, continued them in Dushanbe in July 2009, and we are continuing to discuss a wide variety of issues at today’s meeting. I think that we will cover all the regional problems that concern us. I am referring to certain domestic problems, including the political situation in Afghanistan, the need to normalise operation of state and political development institutions within the so-called Kabul process, and issues concerning assistance for Afghanistan, including international assistance.

We will certainly talk about drug trafficking, as I already mentioned, because this is a common problem. I already had the opportunity to discuss it today with both the President of Afghanistan and the President of Pakistan. We need to have one joint response to the threat of drug trafficking, rather than isolated ones. This problem cannot be resolved by Afghanistan, or by Russia, or by any other nation alone. This is a common problem, and we must work together to tackle it.

Issues of countering terrorism and extremism are, perhaps, the most complicated. I would like to say that I highly value the efforts by the “quartet” partner nations to fight terrorist threats. Such fight involves tactical and conceptual aspects. We have already begun exchanging views in a bilateral format, and we will continue discussing this matter.

Another important component in our talks is economic cooperation. Being able to resolve a variety of major social challenges depends on the scope of such cooperation. We have projects with long development history in our region, as well as projects that were launched during the USSR era. I think that it makes sense to review them in order to try to create greater momentum in our economic progress and resolve a variety of urgent challenges facing our countries, including in energy and social development.

There is one last thing I should note at the beginning. I would like to congratulate the President of Pakistan on the country’s recent Independence Day and congratulate the President of Afghanistan on his nation’s upcoming Independence Day. These are state holidays. I would like to wish you personal success. I also want to wish the peoples of Pakistan and Afghanistan prosperity and success in overcoming current hardship. Thank you.

I now pass the floor to my colleague, President of Tajikistan Mr Rahmon.

President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon: Thank you very much.

Mr President, colleagues, friends,

We view this four-party meeting in Sochi, our second such meeting, as evidence of our states’ ambition to establish mutually beneficial contacts on a new, multi-party platform and broaden the sphere of interaction between our nations. I was talking about this at our meeting in this format last year in Dushanbe and I would like to reiterate here that this fully corresponds with our sincere intentions.

As you know, peace and stability are important conditions for the auspicious expansion of any international cooperation, and our nations are playing a rather significant role in ensuring security and stable development in the region.

The events of this year in various countries around the planet clearly show that the threat of international terrorism remains a reality throughout the world, and as a result, requires consolidated efforts from the global community. By maintaining a policy of fighting terrorism in all its forms, we are advocating for the creation of a collective front to counter this evil, and elimination of the factors that feed terrorism. I am certain that poverty, destitution, unemployment, and other acute social problems are at the root of the rise and spread of intolerance, terrorism, and extremism.

The valuable experience gained by Russia, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan and our solid potential for curbing the forces of terrorism and extremism have become an essential factor for strengthening security and stability in the region.

By signing a multi-party document on combating terrorism, we could open a political and legal path to a new level of cooperation in this area. I think that our goal is to support one another’s ability to counter this real danger. In the foreseeable future, these threats will surely remain, and we cannot exclude the possibility that they may grow sharply. I believe we will share our views on this later.

I would also like to join Mr Medvedev in congratulating our colleagues, the President of Pakistan and the President of Afghanistan, on their recent and upcoming Independence Days and wishing them prosperity, as well as well-being to their peoples and their nations.

Thank you very much.

President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai: Thank you very much, Mr President. We are grateful to you, Mr Medvedev, for inviting us to the extremely beautiful city of Sochi to participate in the second four-party meeting between our nations which, I feel, is a very serious undertaking for our four nations in strengthening our relations in all spheres of life.

I would like to use this opportunity to also express my condolences to the people of Pakistan following the extremely tragic disaster that has befallen them. And we hope that this brave nation, this talented nation will be able to overcome these difficulties as quickly as possible. I hope that the nations represented at this table will do everything possible to help the people of Pakistan. I am especially referring to the people of Afghanistan; we can provide shelter to Pakistani refugees, and we will do that. I would also like to use this opportunity at the very beginning to thank the three nations that are present here with our own nation for the participation of your foreign ministers in the Kabul conference. This was proof that you support Afghanistan, that Afghanistan is standing more firmly on its feet.

I am very happy, Mr Medvedev, that you are also monitoring the Kabul conference, which will help provide a great deal of stability to our state and achieve major progress.

I would like to once again express my full support and the support of the Afghan people for this forum, which is taking place here today. We will participate and we hope that it will be continued in the future.

President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari: Thank you, Mr President.

I would like to once again thank you for holding this second meeting in a four-party format in such a beautiful and scenic place as Sochi. I would like to thank and greet the President of Russia, President Karzai, and President Rahmon.

I have come here at a very difficult time for my nation. I come despite the fact that there was a lot of pressure for me not to be here. However, I explained that this is a very important forum that sends a very important signal, that none of the nations can survive independently. Nature teaches us every day what we learned in our classrooms, but we forget it when we grow old – that nature is the mightiest of forces.

I would like to thank the government of Russia, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. I would like to thank you for supporting us in our efforts. We need the support of the world, the support of everybody. But first of all, I would like to assure you that Pakistan is also ready to unite to resolve this problem. This is a time of need and serious challenges, but we never, ever shy from resolving any necessary challenges.

I support this regional context, and I have always supported it. The people of Pakistan have always supported this format. We feel that we can help one another in our region.

We see how drug traffickers are gaining power. We see what is happening. But we must use the experience gained by the entire global community. Only by uniting at a regional level can we support each other and come out of this situation, which is very dangerous. The world is waiting for us. We feel that our region will play a key role in the future. Only of we unite and can change, develop, and help one another, learn to help one another, can we get out of this serious situation we are in.

Thus, we very much welcome your support, and we support this forum. We thank the President of Afghanistan, as well as the President of Tajikistan. Thank you for coming here and supporting us. We hope that we will be able to find a way out of this situation, and the future will belong to us, if we work together.

Thank you very much.

August 18, 2010, Sochi