Krishna arrives in Kabul: to meet top Afghan leaders

Kabul: Amid its concern over the transition process in Afghanistan, India will seek clarity on a host of issues including President Hamid Karzai`s proposed move to reintegrate Taliban and how the entire process will be implemented.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who arrived here on Saturday on a two-day visit, will hold talks with Afghan leadership during which he will also discuss security of Indian nationals and reiterate India`s commitment for the reconstruction of the war-torn country.

"I look forward to detailed consultation… on further broadening and deepening our bilateral relationships and on regional and international issues of mutual interest," said Krishna, who arrived here on his third visit to Afghanistan.

This is first high-level meeting between New Delhi and Kabul after the last month`s US review of the situation in Afghanistan.

Krishna, who will hold talks with his counterpart Zalmay Rassoul tomorrow before meeting President Hamid Karzai, is expected to also underline the importance of India`s role in the reconstruction of the war-torn country.

India has pledged USD 1.3 billion for reconstruction activities.

Krishna is meeting today First Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim and Second Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili and Speaker of the House of the People Mohammmad Yonus Qanooni.

Sources indicated that India would like to know how this whole transition process is going to play out and will see clarity on proposed move to reintegrate Taliban.

According to the US assessment report "Overview of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Annual Review", America was still on course to begin troop withdrawal from Afghanistan as soon as July 2011 and continue to move towards the goal of having Afghans take the lead in security in the country in 2014.

Given India`s reservation to proposed reintegration of the Taliban, Krishna is also expected to reiterate New Delhi`s position on `Afghan-led and Afghan-owned` peace deal.

Krishna`s visit also comes amidst Afghanistan government`s move to enlist Islamabad`s help to broker peace with the Taliban.

Ahead of his visit, the External Affairs Minister said that Indian missions in Afghanistan were under constant threat but the Afghan government has "fully assured" New Delhi of their security.

Noting that several lives have been lost due to attacks on Indian missions, Krishna said the government was working with the Afghan government to ensure that enough protection was provided to embassy and consulates to avoid any more casualties.

"We have been fully assured by President Hamid Karzai and his government of that (security)," he said yesterday.

Apart from staff in missions, some 4,000 Indians are building roads, sanitation projects and power lines in this country. India is also building the new Afghan Parliament.

In February last year, seven Indians were killed in a Taliban suicide attack on foreigners in Kabul, which claimed 16 lives and left 20 people critically injured.

Besides its embassy in Kabul, India has consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat.

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