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Afghan meet: India may want international forces to stay

January 26, 2010 18:39 IST

Having major stakes in peace and development of Afghanistan, India is expected to press the world not to think about exit from there at a multilateral conference on the war-ravaged nation to be held in London on Thursday.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who will represent India at the conference, is expected to underline the criticality of developmental work and capacity building of Afghans along with the military operations against Taliban as steps to bring peace and stability.

India feels Afghan forces are not yet ready to secure their nation in the face of renewed surge in Taliban activities and hence exit by international forces in the near future would be fraught with dangers.

India believes there is no option but to fight and vanquish the Taliban,which continues to pose the risk and have the potential to destabilise the entire region.

At the same time, New Delhi is not completely opposed to holding talks with some elements of Taliban who want to join the mainstream.

It, however, wants such talks should be led by Afghans themselves and that these should be held under the Afghan Constitution which requires respect for human rights and pluralism.

Without wanting to get involved militarily in Afghanistan, India would remain engaged in developmental field there. India already has $ 1.3 billion worth of reconstruction projects underway in Afghanistan.

This has earned India a massive goodwill in that country as was reflected in a recent opinion poll conducted by a Kabul-based NGO and commissioned by BBC, American Broadcasting Corporation and German Broadcaster ARD.

In the poll, 71 percent of Afghans said they favoured India, which was way ahead of others. Germany polled 59 percent and stood at second spot. The US came third with 51 percent polls, Iran followed with 50 percent votes and Britain got 39 percent.

Pakistan is wary of this goodwill and wants to deny India any role in Afghan affairs. It recently opposed a move to include India in a Regional Contact Group proposed by the UK on Afghanistan.

On the sidelines of the London conference, Krishna will have the opportunity to meet his counterparts from various countries, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

During his three-day stay in London, Krishna will also meet Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith with whom the issue of unabated racist attacks on Indians in Australia would top the agenda.

The external affairs minister is expected to press Smith to ensure that the attacks on Indians come to a stop so that the could feel a sense of safety, sources said.

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