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Afghan for stronger defence ties with India

New Delhi: Afghanistan on Wednesday said it aims to establish closer defence ties with India and will welcome any cooperation from it in training of its security forces.

"We will welcome any cooperation (from India) in the field of training and helping of Afghan national security forces so that they are able to secure and defend the country," Afghan Defence Minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak told reporters here.

He was asked about the nature of help Afghanistan has sought from India in areas of security and defence.

Wardak, who arrived here on a three-day visit, was received at the South Block by his Indian counterpart A K Antony.

On whether the enhanced cooperation between the two countries could result in India supplying military equipment to Afghanistan, Wardak said, "We will be discussing (it).

There is a very genuine interest in strengthening our relations in all sectors including defence."

The visit of the Afghan Defence Minister assumes significance against the backdrop of increasing terror activities in Pakistan and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

India has been actively involved in modernisation programmes in Afghanistan and is viewed as one of its trusted allies pushing for closer security ties with the war-torn nation.

There have been periodic defence exchanges between the armed forces of the two countries since General Wardak last visited India in April, 2008. The Afghan Chief of General Staff, General Sher Mohammad Karimi had visited India in October last year.

India has carried modernisation tasks worth over USD 1 billion after the Hamid Karzai government took over power there.

The visit of the Afghan Defence Minister comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s tour of that country earlier this month.

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