India, US agree to trilateral consultations with Afghanistan

Washington: India and US have agreed to a formal trilateral consultations with Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said, as she highly appreciated New Delhi`s role in that war-torn country.

"Today we agreed to move forward with a formal trilateral consultation among our three nations (India, US and Afghanistan," Clinton told reporters at a joint news conference with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna at the conclusion of the Strategic Dialogue during which Afghanistan was one of the major topics of discussions.

Both the US and India have signed strategic partnership agreements with Afghanistan to demonstrate our enduring commitment, Clinton said.

Later this month, supported by the US, India for the first time is hosting an international investor`s meet in New Delhi.

"We very much appreciate India`s commitment to help build a better future for the Afghan people: helping them with more than USD 2 billion for development; supporting the New Silk Road Initiative; hosting the investment conference at the end of the month; providing security, training and support," she said.

"I am very pleased that Afghanistan is getting this kind of encouragement and tangible support because it`s in everyone`s interests that Afghanistan be as secure and stable as possible," Clinton said.

Krishna said while India`s role has always been a very constructive, Afghanistan falls in its larger neighborhood, with which it has civilisational, historical and trade connections and cultural ties.

And President (Hamid) Karzai, when he came last October to Delhi, we signed a strategic partnership with Afghanistan.

And the whole purpose behind that is to convey to the people of Afghanistan that the Afghan problem has to be solved and that Afghan leadership," he said.

"Yes, they need external support to the extent that is possible. And that external support will not be available to Afghanistan indefinitely. And that is the reason why we have impressed upon Afghanistan, and other countries who are remaining friends of Afghanistan, that we need to equip Afghanistan with a security force which consists of Afghans, which is trained by Afghans, or trained by others, but basically Afghan-led and Afghan," Krishna stressed.

"So I think we will continue to do that, and then I`m sure that Afghanistan will be able to find a solution within the four corners of their constitution," the External Affairs Minister said.

During the talks, India also raised the issue of elimination of terror safe havens in Pakistan.

"We are committed to build Afghan capacity for governance, development and security, and to unlock its economic potential through regional integration. We again stress the importance of eliminations of safe havens in Pakistan for Afghanistan`s security and the region`s stability," Krishna said.