Ahead of Karzai visit, India says willing to discuss security concerns
New Delhi: Ahead of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit, India said on Saturday it was ready to discuss and consider Afghanistan's reported request for arms supplies provided it is raised through the proper forum.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said at a media briefing that the two countries had mechanisms available to address all issues, including those relating to security post the 2014 drawdown of the international forces from Afghanistan.
"Our view is that there is a mechanism available, and within our modest means as a developing country, we will continue to discuss and respond to specific requests from the Afghan government," he said.
"There are diplomatic channels available and we will consider these (requests) as and when they are raised in the channels available," Akbaruddin added.
He was responding to the Afghan ambassador to India Shaida M. Abdali reported urging enhanced defence ties with India, including the supply of lethal and non-lethal military equipment.
Akbaruddin, elaborating on the cooperation between the two countries, said India is working towards helping realise "a strong and viable Afghanistan" through its developmental works in the country. At the same time, India has "no illusions that we can ignore the political and security issues that stand in the way of realising that", he added.
India and Afghanistan have a Strategic Partnership Agreement, inked in 2011, under which they have a Strategic Partnership Council which is headed by their foreign ministers.
The foreign ministers met under the mechanism last summer and are to meet again. There are "four rubrics" under this, including for political and security consultations. "That is the rubric under which all (the Afghan requests) will fit, if there are issues to be raised under those of security consultations," Akbaruddin elaborated.
Karzai arrives in India May 20-22, coinciding with the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. This is Karzai's 12th visit to India, where he last came in November 2012. He will first travel to Chandigarh, and from there to Jalandhar to receive an honorary doctorate from the Lovely Professional University, which would be conferred on him by President Pranab Mukherjee. He would also hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi.
Elaborating on the development work being undertaken by India, Akbaruddin said India has built a 218 km road from Zaranj to Delaram, helped in capacity building by training 2,000 Afghans every year, providing humanitarian assistance in the terms of biscuits and wheat and also helping in infrastructure building in the form of the Salma dam and the Afghan parliament building.