WASHINGTON, June 18: In their first meeting since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency, US President Barack Obama and the Russian leader identified Pakistan and Afghanistan as one of the issues on which they needed to work together.

The two leaders also noted that “both our nations face persistent and evolving domestic and transnational terrorist threats, including from terrorists based in … Afghanistan, and Pakistan”.

In a joint statement issued by the White House in Washington, Presidents Obama and Putin also referred to the presence of “a common threat from Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups operating in and around Afghanistan”.

In the two-hour Obama-Putin meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, Russia also agreed to help the United States deal with the problems it was facing due to Pakistan’s decision to close the Nato supply lines to Afghanistan.

“We will explore opportunities to strengthen the Northern Distribution Network,” the statement said.

The northern network passes through Russia and Central Asian states. Since Pakistan closed the supply routes more than six months ago, the US has been increasingly using this route to supply American and Nato troops in Afghanistan.

Besides strengthening the alternative supply routes, the two countries also agreed to bolster regional security in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood, and to “expand cooperation as we fight terrorism and narcotics trafficking, taking advantage of the capabilities of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and the Nato-Russia Council to enhance law-enforcement training for the region”.

Acknowledging “the global character” of these challenges, the two countries reaffirmed their readiness for further joint work to implement the UN’s Global Counter-terrorism Strategy, the UN Security Council resolutions and statements on terrorism.—Anwar Iqbal

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