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Afghan meet: India expected to disfavour exit of intl forces

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 18:19

New Delhi: Having major stakes in peace and
development of Afghanistan, India is expected to press the
world not to think about exit from there at a multilateral
conference on the war-ravaged nation to be held in London on

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, who will
represent India at the conference, is expected to underline
the criticality of developmental work and capacity building of
Afghans along with the military operations against Taliban as
steps to bring peace and stability.

India feels Afghan forces are not yet ready to secure
their nation in the face of renewed surge in Taliban
activities and hence exit by international forces in the near
future would be fraught with dangers.

India believes there is no option but to fight and
vanquish the Taliban which continue to pose the risk and have
the potential to destabilise the entire region.

At the same time, New Delhi is not completely opposed to
holding talks with some elements of Taliban who want to join
the mainstream.

It, however, wants such talks should be led by Afghans
themselves and that these should be held under the Afghan
Constitution which requires respect for human rights
and pluralism.

Without wanting to get involved militarily in
Afghanistan, India would remain engaged in developmental field
there. India already has USD 1.3 billion worth of
reconstruction projects underway in Afghanistan.

This has earned India a massive goodwill in that country
as was reflected in a recent opinion poll conducted by a
Kabul-based NGO and commissioned by BBC, American Broadcasting
Corporation and German Broadcaster ARD.

In the poll, 71 percent of Afghans said they favoured
India, which was way ahead of others. Germany polled 59 percent and stood at second spot. The US came third with 51 percent polls, Iran followed with 50 percent votes and Britain
got 39 percent.

Pakistan is wary of this goodwill and wants to deny
India any role in Afghan affairs. It recently opposed a move
to include India in a Regional Contact Group proposed by the
UK on Afghanistan.

On the sidelines of the London conference, Krishna will
have the opportunity to meet his counterparts from various
countries, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

During his three-day stay in London, Krishna will also
meet Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith with whom the
issue of unabated racist attacks on Indians in Australia would
top the agenda.

The External Affairs Minister is expected to press Smith
to ensure that the attacks on Indians come to a stop so that
they could feel a sense of safety, sources said.


First Published: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 18:19
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