Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to visit India in April

 Afghanistan's new President Ashraf Ghani would travel to India next month, a top Afghan leader said on Thursday, noting that the maiden trip would provide an opportunity to address India's concerns regarding the country's recent interaction with Pakistan.

Washington: Afghanistan's new President Ashraf Ghani would travel to India next month, a top Afghan leader said on Thursday, noting that the maiden trip would provide an opportunity to address India's concerns regarding the country's recent interaction with Pakistan.

"Relationship between India and Afghanistan has been a solid one. India is the fifth top donor country for Afghanistan. They have given more than USD 2 billion in assistance," Afghan Chief Executive Officer Dr Abdullah Abdullah told reporters at a news conference here.

India, he said, would be unhappy if Afghanistan goes back to the days of pre-9/11 when the country was a terrorist safe haven.

New Delhi, he noted has been helping Afghanistan in many ways, towards the stabilisation and also meet its developmental needs.

"Any situation that would lead to stabilisation of Afghanistan and clamp down on terrorists, they would welcome it. When they would see that things are moving in that direction as a result of our interaction with Pakistan, I do not think they would oppose it," Abdullah said.

The top Afghan leader was responding to questions on India's reaction to the recent Afghan move to improve ties with Pakistan.

The recent improvement in relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said, has no doubt created some questions among some people in India, but not among the mainstream policy makers.

"So there are questions (in India) in that regard," he said.

"President Ghani would be visiting India towards the end of April. This would be an opportunity, if there are concerns, to address it. I was in India, just a few days ago. They (Indians) understand that the foundations of relationship between the two countries are very solid. India wants a stable Afghanistan," Abdullah said.

Responding to questions, he said the ground realities in Pakistan remain the same, even though there is change in tone of the top Pakistani leadership with regard to terrorism. PTI LKJ NSA AKJ

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"We have not seen evidence that the Taliban are not receiving support in Pakistan. We have seen a change in tone in Pakistan. There has been lots of interactions in the past few months between our leadership and their leaderships, both civilian and military.

"The messaging part of it is very good. The Pakistani Army Chief of Staff says that the enemy of Afghanistan is our enemy. That is the right message," he said.

Abdullah hoped talks with the Taliban could begin in the next few weeks.

"As regards talks with the Taliban, negotiations have not started yet. We hope that it will start. At this stage -- date, venue and composition of the delegations are not being discussed. We hope that in the coming few weeks it would start," he said.

"But at the same time start of negotiations automatically does not mean will not translate on the ground making peace. It will start a process, which we will able to judge it on the way," he said in response to a question and added that Pakistan has made it clear to the Taliban that they need to talk to the Government of Afghanistan.

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