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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Russia to take over training for more Afghan troops

Moscow - Russia will take over training for more Afghan troops, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev promised Friday during a visit from Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Without naming specific figures, Medvedev said Russia will boost the number of Afghan troops trained by Russian forces, reported the Interfax news agency. To date, Russian forces have focused on training anti-narcotics police and helicopter pilots.

NATO has regularly asked Russia to beef up its support international efforts to restore peace in Afghanistan.

However, Medvedev continues to rule out any renewed military presence in Afghanistan. Most Russians remain sensitive about the region after the Soviet Army suffered heavy losses during an offensive there that ended in defeat and withdrawal in 1988.

A variety of treaties were also signed during Karzai's visit, including a trade agreement. Agreements also called for Russia to build several hydroelectric plants in Afghanistan.

The two leaders also inked agreements to cooperate on fighting drug smuggling. About 90 per cent of heroin consumed in Russia reportedly originates in Afghanistan.

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