Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai is set to visit Russia today (Monday) for talks with President Vladimir Putin on Moscow's role in helping rebuild Afghanistan.
During his two-day visit, Mr. Karzai is also expected to discuss narcotics smuggling from Afghanistan, and its impact on Russia.
Under the Taleban, Afghan drug smugglers used Russian territory as a main transport route for drugs headed for Europe. Reports say Moscow wants to make certain that under the new Afghan government, drugs do not once again become a major problem.
It is unclear how much financial help the cash-strapped Russian government can offer Mr. Karzai for post-Taleban reconstruction.
But Russia has a long-standing interest in Afghanistan, which shares a border with three former Soviet republics Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Moscow fears that if unchecked, Islamic extremism from Afghanistan could spread into the former Soviet republics and from there into Russia.
The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, to aid the communist government of Babrak Karmal. Moscow withdrew its troops 10 years later in a humiliating defeat.