Azerbaijan and Georgia have significantly helped Afghanistan in providing security, the deputy foreign minister for political affairs of Afghanistan, Hekmat Khalil Karzai, said while answering a question from Vestnik Kavkaza during a press conference dedicated to the diplomat’s first visit to Moscow.
"Azerbaijan and Georgia help us. We have bilateral relations with both countries, and we develop friendly relations with them. In addition, for example, Georgia has been involved in NATO’s ISAF mission, and now participates in the non-combat mission of the alliance, ‘Strong Support’, which has replaced the ISAF mission. ‘Strong Support’ has a very specific purpose: it has nothing to do with the conduct of hostilities, as it is aimed at providing training, assistance and advice to the Afghan security forces. In this way they help us in the preparation of our security services and militaries,’’ he said.
Answering a question from Vestnik Kavkaza about the life of the Tajik population in Afghanistan, Karzai said that for the Kabul authorities all the people living in the country, regardless of their ethnicity, are fully-fledged Afghan citizens. "They have absolutely the same rights guaranteed by the Constitution as Afghans, because they are Afghans. For us, their ethnic identity is unimportant, it is important that they are citizens of our country. All Afghans participate and contribute to life in Afghanistan,’’ the deputy foreign minister of Afghanistan said.
In addition, the deputy minister of foreign affairs of Afghanistan noted the important role that Russia plays in the region: "Our Russian colleagues have expressed their willingness to support the peace process in Afghanistan. Russia is a very important player in our region. My visit here just proves what a role Russia plays in the region, it is very important to us. And we want to develop our relations with our Russian colleagues."
Karzai emphasized the interaction between Russia and Afghanistan on a bilateral level and within international organizations, "For four years we have been observers in the SCO, we want to be full members of the organization. We have asked our Russian colleagues to support our membership. We have also discussed partnership at the regional and international levels, in particular with international organizations such as the United Nations, where we support each other."
Also in Moscow the sides discussed issues of trade between Russia and Afghanistan. "We have agreed that we will strengthen the development of trade between our countries. We also want to simplify the visa regime so that businessmen from Russia can come to Afghanistan quite simply,’’ the deputy minister said.
Another topic of the talks was cooperation in the field of security between Russia and Afghanistan: "We have discussed the possibility of exchange of experience between the Russian and Afghan security agencies. We have talked about the military support of Russia," Karzai said.
The parties signed a protocol on bilateral political cooperation. Karzai expressed hope that the heads of Russia and Afghanistan will meet in Tashkent during the SCO summit next month. In addition, it is expected that an Afghan government delegation will visit Moscow in July this year.