Putin says Afghanistan needs “special attention”

Monitoring Desk

BISHKEK: Russian president on Friday called the necessity to ensure the complete elimination of terrorism in Idlib “an immediate task”.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-militarized zone after a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his counterpart Vladimir Putin in Russia’s coastal city of Sochi.

Ankara and Moscow signed a memorandum of understanding calling for the stabilization of the situation in Idlib’s de-escalation zone, in which acts of aggression are prohibited.

“Our immediate task now is to ensure the complete elimination of hotbeds of terrorism, primarily in Idlib, and at the same time to increase the volume of humanitarian aid and assistance to the economic reconstruction of Syria provided by the international community,” Putin said at the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Bishkek.

Members of the SCO need to do everything possible to prevent terrorists from getting hold of chemical and biological weapons, Putin stressed. “We believe that it is important… to stop terrorists from using drug trafficking revenues and make everything possible to prevent them from getting their hands on chemical and biological weapons or other kinds of weapons of mass destruction,” the Russian leader pointed out.

According to Putin, the fight against terrorism and extremism remains one of the SCO’s top priorities. He pointed out that Moscow stood for close cooperation aimed at thwarting terrorist propaganda and extremist ideas on the Internet and the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes. Putin also said that in order to boost joint efforts in that area, the leaders of SCO countries planned to endorse a concept of cooperation in the field of digitization and information technology at the Bishkek summit.

Turning to Afghanistan, Putin said the developments in the country require “special attention”.

“My colleagues have already spoken about this here. The Afghan people need help in achieving national reconciliation and economic recovery. We fully support the plan to expand the organization’s security, economic and humanitarian cooperation with Afghanistan, as reflected in the relevant roadmap to be signed today. We aim to contribute in every way to the revival of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group’s activity,” the Russian president added.

Putin welcomed the SCO’s successful development and the strengthening of its positions at the regional level, and added that following the Bishkek meeting, Russia would take over the SCO chairmanship for 2019-2020. (AA)