Hamid Karzai to press for stepping up defence aid during India visit

Last Updated: Monday, December 9, 2013 - 20:09

New Delhi: Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who will visit India from Friday, will hold talks with top leadership here during which he is expected to press for stepping up of aid - both civilian and military including lethal and non-lethal weapons - while apprising it of "ground realities" in the face NATO forces withdrawal by next year.

Asserting that it was time for regional countries particularly India to consider "new role" in this region as troops from the war-torn country leave, Afghan Ambassador to India Shaida M Abdali said Karzai is expected to stress on the need to enhance bilateral cooperation in key areas.

Karzai`s visit, his 14th in 12 years, 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 few months to go for elections.

"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.

"It is imperative for the two countries to cooperate in all area, including in security and defence. It will definitely be part of discussion as to how we can expedite the process under the strategic partnership agreement, including our request for expansion of cooperation in equipments and so on," he said.

Significantly, Karzai in his last meeting with Singh had sought greater support in military supplies -both lethal and non-lethal, a demand which is being considered by the government here.

According to officials here, "the demand was being considered taking into account various factors including two major issues - our ability to supply based on our surpluses and licensing from other countries e.G if India is to supply a Russian-tank, it would require the permission and license from Russia to do so."

Abdali said, "The discussion in pursuit of our list that was presented is an ongoing process, technical teams meet on regular basis, list is always being looked at and we have heard India loudly that India will do anything available within the limits that they have and we fully respect that," the Afghan envoy said.

"We only look at this expansion to come over time and we are satisfied with the progress under the bilateral security agreement," he said.
This will be Karzai`s third visit within a year.

"President Karzai will apprise the Indian leadership of what is going on right now in Afghanistan. And he will specially discuss the three important issues -Afghanistan`s negotiation on the BSA with the US; the peace process and then the transition process and also to consult what would be the way ahead for us," Abdali said.

PTI

First Published: Monday, December 9, 2013 - 20:09

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