With heavy agenda, Karzai off to India
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai is leaving for India on Thursday on a four-day official visit during which he will hold talks with Indian leadership and likely to press for supply of military hardware by New Delhi to strengthen his country’s security.
The Presidential Palace in Kabul said President Karzai was visiting India on the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he will hold talks with his guests on bilateral cooperation in various fields under the strategic agreement between the two countries.
After his talks with Singh in Delhi, Karzai will go to Pune to attend the Symbiosis University event on an invitation of a private university in Pune.
Karzai in his last meeting with Singh had sought greater military and civilian support to fill the vacuum created by the withdrawal of Western forces, a demand which is being considered by the government of India. The issue is expected to figure again during the talks between Singh and Karzai.
Other key issues expected to figure during the talks would include proposed Afghan-US security pact which Karzai has refused to ink demanding that the US must put an immediate end to military raids on Afghan homes and demonstrate its commitment to peace talks before he would sign the agreement.
President Karzai will be visiting India in connection with an invitation with education organisation, Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said, adding the last time also when he was invited by a private university, the Afghan President, who is a honoured guest, also met all sections of leadership.
His spokesman Aimal Faizi said President Karzai will be meeting a number of Indian traders and research organisations officials and representatives of Indian and foreign journalists.
He said Afghanistan and India had strong bilateral relations and that India had so far invested more than $2 billion in aid in various Afghan sectors, including roads.
On the trip, Karzai is accompanied by his national security advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta, acting foreign minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani, acting commerce and industry minister Shakir Kargar and other high officials.
Afghan Ambassador in New Delhi Shaida M Abdali said Karzai will apprise the Indian leadership about the current situation in the country, particularly the peace process and also discuss on what would be the way ahead for the country.
"President is coming to India in this crucial period of history to apprise the Indian leadership on the current situation in Afghanistan, ground realities and to think far ahead, given the significance of the ties now, in 2014 and beyond," Abdali said.
Karzai's visit, his 14th in 12 years and third within a year, comes at a time when his country is facing the drawdown of NATO troops, uncertainty over its signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US and just a few months to go for the elections.
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