In the context NATO-led forces pullout in 2014

Russia, China and other participants in a key international conference in Kabul emphasised regional solutions for Afghanistan in the context of the coming pullout of the NATO-led forces in 2014.

Addressing the 29-nation ministerial-level conference on Thursday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov praised its decision to establish working groups for fighting terrorism and drug trafficking. The groups will interact with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

“The regional dimension is acquiring added relevance in the light of the coming withdrawal of the coalition forces, which creates serious security risks for the region,” Mr. Lavrov told the Heart of Asia Conference on Afghanistan.

“I am confident that more streamlined and coordinated regional efforts and the honouring of commitments assumed by members of the international community will promote a stable development of long-suffering Afghan land and the wellbeing of its people; will help resurrect an independent, peaceful and neutral Afghanistan, free from terrorism and drug-related crime.”

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Fu Ying said China supports Afghanistan in its efforts to strengthen ties with countries in the region, and is ready to work with relevant countries to contribute to the peace, stability and development of Afghanistan and the region.

The Kabul conference is a follow up to the regional conference on Afghanistan held in Istanbul in November 2011. It started the so-called Istanbul process for promoting regional cooperation and sustainable economic growth.

Minister of Law Justice and Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid, who led the Indian delegation to the Kabul conference voiced strong support for the Istanbul process and insisted that it should be an Afghan-owned process. He recalled civilisational ties between India and Afghanistan and stressed the importance of confidence building measures among the regional countries and efforts to root out extremism, terrorism and drug trafficking. Mr. Kurshid invited countries of the world to participate in the Afghanistan Investment Summit to be held in India on June 28.

Opening the conference, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said successful peace discussions with the Taliban were instrumental in achieving harmony. He said Salahuddin Rabbani, head of the government-appointed high peace council, would travel to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan shortly to seek their continued help in peace talks with the Taliban.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar responded by saying while Pakistan stood ready to help the peace process, Afghanistan's factions had to reach political consensus to end the war before Kabul can count on the support of its neighbours.

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