Delhi to give Kabul 2 'cheetah' choppers
KABUL (PAN): India will next month provide two “cheetah” helicopters to Afghanistan and may even send its military trainers to the newly opened Afghan National Army Officers Academy in Kabul, a leading Indian newspaper said on Monday.
Deccan Herald, a leading English-language daily newspaper in the Indian state of Karnataka, quoted unnamed sources as saying India would provide Afghanistan two ‘cheetah’ helicopters manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Bangalore next month. The choppers would be used for reconnaissance purposes.
Afghan Ambassador in New Delhi, Shaida M Abdali, told the daily the Afghan government was keen on India joining Russia to revive and run an old Soviet-era military maintenance facility in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan also requested India to send its military trainers to a new facility being set up near Kabul with support from the UK, he added.
Though New Delhi has so far kept its defence cooperation with Kabul limited to training personnel of Afghan National Security Forces in institutions in India and supplying non-lethal military hardware, New Delhi is understood to be studying the fresh proposals form President Hamid Karzai’s administration.
Karzai is expected to discuss the proposals with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to New Delhi on December 12 and 13 next.
“They (Karzai and Singh) will examine efforts to be undertaken by both sides to ensure the protection of our shared national security interests,” said Abdali.
About 1400 Afghan National Army officers were trained in institutions in India since 2003.
Besides, the Afghan envoy said, altogether 350 more officers from Afghanistan were undergoing training courses in military facilities in India.
Kabul has over the past few months been prodding New Delhi to step up its investment in the security of Afghanistan and provide it with both lethal and non-lethal weapons to prevent spillover effects of terrorism in that country after the withdrawal of foreign troops.
Singh assured Karzai last May that New Delhi would try to meet some of the requirements of the Afghan National Security Forces, which would have to take greater responsibility post-2014.
India and Afghanistan in October 2011 signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement and set up a Strategic Partnership Council, which has four separate joint working groups for political and security consultations, trade and economic cooperation, capacity development and education, and social cultural and civil society interactions.
The issue of stepping up the military ties is likely to be discussed by the Joint Working Group for Political and Security Consultations.
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