Karzai heads to Kazakhstan for regional summit

June 14. AFP. KABUL

Karzai heads to Kazakhstan for regional summitAfghan President Hamid Karzai left Kabul on Tuesday for Kazakhstan to deliver a speech at a summit of Central Asian nations and hold talks with other regional powers, his office said.

He will present the views of Afghanistan on “regional cooperation, the war against terrorism, counter-narcotics and economic cooperation”, it said in a statement.

Karzai is travelling with his foreign minister and national security advisor, and will also hold talks with leaders from China, Iran, Kazakhstan and Russia during the two-day visit.

Afghanistan has been invited as a guest to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a regional security group that is dominated by China and Russia. India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status.

The visit comes with Karzai reaching out for help in brokering peace with the Taliban, who have been waging a deadly insurgency since they were ousted from power in the 2001 US-led invasion following the September 11 attacks.

There are 130,000 international troops fighting to quell the insurgency, but they are due to start limited withdrawals next month. The Afghan police and army are scheduled to take control of security before the end of 2014.

The SCO was formed in 2001 by China, Russia and the four Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and is aimed at fighting extremism in the region.