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Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Russia offers Afghan defence help

Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Soviet forces fought a bitter war in Afghanistan before withdrawing

Russia has said it is ready to help Afghanistan's defence sector by supplying equipment to the nation's armed forces.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow was responding to a request from his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai.

A spokesman for the Afghan presidency said that despite the request, Afghanistan was committed to its ties to US and Nato-led forces.

Soviet forces fought a bitter war of occupation in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Complaints

A statement from Mr Medvedev said Russia was "ready to provide broad assistance for an independent and democratic country that lives in a peaceful atmosphere with its neighbours".

He added: "Co-operation in the defence sector... will be effective for establishing peace in the region."

The Afghan presidency said Russia was also prepared to provide any other assistance that would help bring peace.

There have been complaints in Afghanistan that despite the huge Western presence its armed forces have not been properly equipped.

The US has pledged to send up to 30,000 new troops to Afghanistan in 2009, adding to the 32,000 troops already there.



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