US, Afghanistan to conclude partnership deal



Washington: Asserting that US and Afghanistan are strategic partners, Kabul's top diplomat to Washington has said that negotiations with America are on track to conclude a strategic partnership document.

"We are in the middle of negotiation with the US about strategic partnership document. We have talked on different subjects and provisions of the document and we are hopeful that we would come to the conclusions soon," Afghan Ambassador to the US Eklil Hakimi told Washington Indian News Group (WING) a recently formed group of Washington-based Indian journalists.

"Last year, we signed a strategic declaration with NATO that with the support of our international partners from July of this year, we would start the transition and this has already started from seven areas of the country," he said.

He refrained from answering questions with regard to the tragic incident over the weekend in which 30 American soldiers and seven Afghan soldiers were killed after a helicopter carrying them was shot down by the insurgents.

Hakimi praised India's role in Afghanistan, which he said so far has been to the tune of USD 2 billion.

"The support that we have received from India in different areas, is something that we cherish," he said.

The High Peace Council headed by a former Afghan President went to New Delhi recently and they discussed with the Indian leaders on the ongoing reconciliation process.

"There is a better understanding in the top level," he said in response to a question.

"During the meetings it has been discussed and also we received assurance from the Indian Government that they are supporting the Afghan-led reconciliation, to which we are grateful," he said.

Pakistan, he said, can play a crucial role in the success of reconciliation.

Hakimi noted that the reconciliation process is in a very early stage of trust building with opposition forces, but this requires co-operation and support from both India and Pakistan.

"A channel of communication has been established with the opposition group," he said.

Responding to a question on the role of India in Afghanistan, he said it is mainly concentrated towards the developmental aspect and is highly appreciated by the people of his country.

However, there is no talk of any role of India in the security arena, which as of now is taken care of by the international alliance led by US and NATO countries.

PTI