`Afghanistan needs India`s support to bolster security forces`

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has said his country will need support of its friends, particularly India, to train and equip security forces ahead of this year`s deadline for the NATO pullout in the war-torn nation, Afghan media reported today.

Kabul: Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has said his country will need support of its friends, particularly India, to train and equip security forces ahead of this year`s deadline for the NATO pullout in the war-torn nation, Afghan media reported today.

Karzai, who was on a two-day visit to India for the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as the 15th Prime Minister, returned home yesterday.

On the second day of his visit, Karzai separately met with Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee yesterday.

In their more than half an hour meeting, Modi and Karzai discussed ways to enhance cooperation in the wake of NATO combat troops withdrawal from the war-torn country.

During his first bilateral meeting with any international leader after assuming charge, Modi thanked Karzai for the assistance provided by the Afghan forces in repelling the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat and said it had "only strengthened our resolve to work together with Afghanistan".

Modi reaffirmed India`s commitment to lend its all-round support to Afghanistan under the bilateral partnership agreement, Afghanistan Times reported.

Since foreign troops would leave Afghanistan by the end of this year, "Afghanistan will need support of its friends, particularly India, to train and equip Afghan security forces," the report quoted Karzai as saying.

Karzai also met with his Indian counterpart Mukherjee during which the former termed India as a good friend of Afghanistan and hoped that his successor would work for further expansion of friendly bilateral ties.

Mukherjee appreciated Karzai`s efforts in strengthening democracy in Afghanistan.

"The first-ever peaceful transition of power in Afghanistan will be one of the great achievements of President Karzai," he said.

During his earlier visit in December last year, Karzai had sought military aid and equipment from India to strengthen Afghan security forces.

Barack Obama yesterday said America will keep 9,800 of its troops in Afghanistan this year and will withdraw them completely by 2016 as the US President admitted it was "time to turn the page" on more than a decade of military intervention in the war-torn country.

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