India can play key role in Afghan polls: Kerry
NEW DELHI (PAN): US Secretary of State John Kerry, allaying New Delhi's fears about involving Taliban in the peace talks, has said India -- the world's biggest democracy -- can play a key role in the 2014 elections in Afghanistan.
During his visit to India for US-India strategic dialogue, Kerry said on Sunday: “The world’s largest democracy can play a central role in helping the government of Afghanistan improve its electoral system and create a credible and independent framework for resolving disputes."
The US and India should and must work together to support an inclusive, legitimate democratic process that helped the Afghan people find unity around a new leader who would build on the economic and social gains that had been achieved under President Hamid Karzai, he stressed.
"A successful election -- and this is so critical -- in 2014 will be the first time in Afghanistan’s history that one popularly elected leader will peacefully replace another, and that is the mark of a true democracy," Kerry remarked.
He said countries like India and the US remained squarely focused on the historic milestone on the horizon: Afghanistan’s 2014 elections.
"As democracies like India and the United States uniquely understand, Afghanistan’s future will be determined when millions of Afghan men and women vote to choose what kind of country they want to live in, which leaders they want to empower..." the secretary of state added.
Kerry praised India's role in Afghanistan and its financial support to the war-ravaged country, assuaging the South Asian giant's fears about the US holding talks with the Taliban.
"And let me be clear: Any political settlement must result, in our judgment, in the Taliban breaking ties with Al-Qaida; renouncing violence; and accepting the Afghan constitution...
"Afghanistan cannot again become a safe haven for international terrorism, and we are committed to an ongoing force level in the region, with the consent of the Afghan government, that will continue to conduct counterterrorism to protect all of us from that scourge," Kerry concluded.
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