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Central, South Asian Leaders Meet in Russia


Russia is hosting the presidents of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan in a summit aimed at coordinating efforts to battle terrorism and counter regional drug trafficking.

Ahead of Wednesday's summit, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev met separately with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon, whose country borders Afghanistan, was also participating.

The summit features a rare direct encounter between Mr. Zardari and Mr. Karzai, whose Kabul government has repeatedly accused Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency of supporting the Taliban. Pakistan has adamantly denied the allegations.

NATO has urged Russia to provide military hardware and training for Afghan forces, and Moscow has said it is willing to help. However, Russia has made clear it has no plans to send troops to Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union waged a decade-long war in the 1980s before withdrawing.

Earlier Wednesday, a Russian presidential aide said the four leaders would also discuss efforts to boost cooperation in the trade, energy, investment and transportation sectors.

Russia is also expected to offer further aid to flood-hit Pakistan at the summit. Moscow has already sent a planeload of emergency supplies for flood victims.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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