India, Afghanistan to ink four pacts during Hamid Karzai's visit



New Delhi: Four pacts are expected to be inked between India and Afghanistan, including one in the mining field during the visit of Afghan President Hamid Karzai from November 9. The two countries will also explore the possibility of increased role of New Delhi in training of security forces of the war-torn country during the four-day visit.

Karzai, who will begin his tour from Mumbai, will interact with the business community there and seek greater investment in his country in various sectors. Briefing the reporters on the Presidential visit, Afghan Ambassador Shaida Mohammad Abdali said, Karzai was coming to India at "a critical time" as international combat troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014.

Karzai will also deliver the annual Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad annual lecture on November 11. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Karzai will hold wide-ranging talks, including on regional security situation and safety of Indian nationals and Indian projects on November 12 in New Delhi. The two leaders will discuss a range of key issues of mutual interest, Abdali said, adding efforts to intensify the India-Afghanistan strategic dialogue on bilateral and regional issues will also be made by the Afghan side.

The two countries will also explore the possibility of increased role of New Delhi in training of security forces of the war-torn country.

Four MoUs will be signed between the two countries in areas of mines, youth affairs, small development projects and fertilizers, he said. Indicating that the two sides will also explore ways to step up Indian training for Afghan national security forces during the visit, the Afghan envoy said, "India has committed itself to strengthening security of Afghanistan."

Abdali also noted that there were "still pockets of insurgent groups and sanctuaries of terror" in his country and stressed the need for intensifying international and regional cooperation in combating terrorism. "We need to cooperate against combating terrorism. We don't have a satisfactory situation so far," he said.

Terming India as a "special friend" of Afghanistan, Abdali said India is "a reliable and all-season friend, which has been with Afghanistan in good and bad times". "India is focusing on life-changing initiatives for Afghanistan and the region," he said.

Karzai is also expected to apprise India of the status of peace process and the efforts made by his government to prepare for the post-2014 scenario when Western combat forces will withdraw from Afghanistan. For Indian side, the security of their nationals and projects will be the focus during the talks, sources said.

Indians in Afghanistan include Afghans of Indian origin as well as Indian construction and aid workers involved in rebuilding and humanitarian assistance efforts. Having committed a $2.3 billion aid program, India is one of the largest donors to Afghanistan, investing in the economy, humanitarian aid, education, development, construction and electrical projects.

PTI