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Home > News > Report

Pranab to invite Karzai for SAARC meet

January 22, 2007 10:28 IST

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will deliver an invitation to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit to be held in India in April, when he arrives in Kabul on Monday on his first high-level visit to the country.

Afghanistan became a SAARC member in 2006. Mukherjee will also meet with the speaker of the Wolesi Jirga, Younus Qanooni, and the international relations committee of the Lower House. The minister's visit comes at an important juncture both in terms of political developments in Afghanistan as well as Indo-Afghan relations. The crisis related to the Taliban-fuelled insurgency has reached a critical phase with calls for greater pressure on Pakistan.

Cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been identified as one of the key pillars of a successful strategy to combat the insurgency. The Indian government shares Afghanistan's concerns and it is likely that the issue will come up during discussions.

With the steady increase in aid over the past five years that covers a wide range of developmental needs from infrastructure construction and development to capacity building in human resources, India has emerged as one of the most consistent donors in the reconstruction process in Afghanistan.

India's close relationship with Afghanistan is a matter of concern to Pakistan and its President Pervez Musharraf raised the issue during his visit to Afghanistan last year.

Afghanistan has always stressed the need to tread carefully between the two countries, emphasising that while relations with India are historic, Pakistan is an immediate neighbour.