Russia’s Medvedev, Afghanistan’s Karzai to talk cooperation

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will discuss on Wednesday with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai issues of bilateral cooperation, a Russian presidential aide said.

The presidents will meet in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, which currently hosts the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

“During the talks, Medvedev and Karzai are expected to exchange their opinions on the priority directions in the development of trade and economic cooperation with the main emphasis on the implementation of joint large-scale projects to restore and modernize Afghanistan’s infrastructure,” Sergei Prikhodko said.

The presidents, Prikhodko said, are also set to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan and in the region as well in the light of the fight against drugs production and smuggling.

Afghan drug production increased dramatically after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001, and Russia has been one of the most affected countries, with heroin consumption rising steeply.

About 90 percent of heroin consumed in Russia is smuggled from Afghanistan via former Soviet republics, including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Around 30,000 Russians die from heroin abuse every year.

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