Afghan Foreign Minister (Acting) Salahuddin Rabbani is expected to renew the demand for greater Indian involvement in the war-ravaged nation when he meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on Monday.
The Afghan leader arrives in Delhi today for delegation-level talks of the “India Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council” during which the two sides are likely to review the entire gamut of relations, including the Indian humanitarian assistance to the embattled nation, India’s media reported.
Tomorrow’s delegation level talks assume high significance in view of US President Donald Trump’s new Strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia in which he has sought greater involvement of India in the war torn country.
Unveiling the new strategy on 21 August, President Trump had said, “We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development. We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.”
This will be the first high-level visit to India from Afghanistan since unveiling of President Trump’s new strategy.
The Afghan delegation is also once again expected to urge India to consider its ‘wish-list’ of defence equipment it has sought from India.
There is uncertainty yet on the providing defence requirements to Afghanistan. However, there are bigger possibilities of New Delhi stepping up its reconstruction and development initiatives in the country.
During the visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on 14-15 September 2016, India had announced additional USD 1 billion assistance for capability building in spheres such as education, health, agriculture, skill development, empowerment of women, energy, infrastructure and strengthening of democratic institutions of Afghanistan.
The issues about jointly combating terrorism unleashed by Pakistan-based terror groups in India and Afghanistan are also expected to receive serious considerations from both countries in Monday’s meeting.
Yet another significant issue is the expeditious implementation of the trilateral agreement involving Afghanistan, India and Iran, signed in May 2016, using Chahbahar port to augment connectivity within and of the region.
India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links. In the recent past, Indo-Afghan relations have been further strengthened by the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the two countries in 2011. As Afghanistan was undergoing three simultaneous political, security and economic transitions in 2016, India had allayed its fears about its future by making a long-term commitment to the security and development of Afghanistan.
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