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Menon in Kabul to ensure its assets' safety

July 13, 2008 16:30 IST

Amid threats of fresh attacks on Indian assets in Afghanistan following the deadly suicide bombing at its embassy, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon arrived in Kabul on Sunday to discuss ways to revamp security to thwart designs of the Taliban and its mentor Inter Services Intelligence.

Menon, who is accompanied by senior officials of the ministries of External Affairs and Home, will discuss with Afghan authorities measures to ensure proper security to Indian missions and about 3,000 Indians engaged in reconstruction and development works in the war-torn country.

Monday's bombing has sparked fresh worry in New Delhi, especially with new intelligence inputs that the Taliban were planning more attacks to target Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad.

The visit came on the day the Indian embassy began issuing visas again, nearly a week after the massive car bomb attack at its gate left 58 people dead, including Defence Attache R D Mehta, senior IFS officer V V Rao and two Indo Tibetan Border Patrol jawans.

Menon will discuss with Afghan authorities ways to thwart and neutralise threats from Taliban and its mentor ISI following Monday's attack, officials said.

"It is not an ordinary review of the security. It is much more than discussing revamp of the security," an official told PTI in New Delhi while talking about Menon's two-day mission but did not elaborate.

Considering the high-level of threat, India has not ruled out deploying Army's Special Forces for security of the embassy in Kabul and consulates elsewhere in Afghanistan.

At present, the security is managed by ITBP personnel.

Ambassador Jayant Prasad said the embassy was trying its best to restore its normal functioning and resumption of visa services was an 'an important element'.

The government decided to send the foreign secretary after a high-level team, headed by Secretary (West) in MEA Nalin Surie returned after its assessment of the situation of Indian assets in Afghanistan.

The team led by Surie that rushed hours after the suicide bomber struck at the Indian embassy is understood to have told the government about the high level of threat to Indian embassy, consulates and thousands of workers.

One of India's key projects is the building of a road in southwestern Afghanistan that will give the country access to Iranian, bypassing Pakistani ports.

Indian is also building electrical transmission lines to bring electricity from Uzbekistan to Kabul.

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