MOSCOW - Afghanistan's interim prime minister Hamid Karzai arrived Monday evening in Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin and other officials on Russian help rebuilding the Afghan military and infrastructure.
Karzai, leading a large government delegation, was to meet Tuesday with Putin in the Kremlin. Karzai was also expected to meet Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and the speaker of the lower house of Russia's parliament, Gennady Seleznyov, the Afghan Embassy said.
Russian aid for rebuilding Afghanistan was expected to dominate talks. They were also likely to address joint efforts in fighting drug trafficking and terrorism.
Russia, which has supported the U.S.-led anti-terror operation, has been eager to build close ties with the new Afghan government, including by helping rebuild the military. Numerous Afghan officials have visited Moscow in recent weeks.
Russia provided military aid to the opposition alliance fighting Afghanistan's Taliban militia for the past few years. Since the U.S.-led military campaign began last fall, Russia has also contributed dlrs 12 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, the Interfax news agency reported.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovlenko called on Karzai to push for full implementation of the agreement on Afghanistan's government reached last year in Germany.
"The interim administration in Afghanistan can make a significant contribution to the creation of conditions allowing all Afghans to exercise their right to the freedom of expression of their will and self-determination," he said, according to ITAR-Tass news agency.
Yakovlenko also called for international peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan to "strictly abide" by their mandate and be careful about talks on revising that mandate.
Karzai's visit came as U.S. fighter jets pounded the mountains of eastern Afghanistan on Monday to try to wipe out any remnants of al-Qaida holdouts hiding in a warren of caves. Karzai sent up to 1,000 additional troops to the region, which he called the "last main base" of al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.
Karzai was to leave for Germany after his Moscow visit.