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PM's special envoy in US with Afghan agenda

December 07, 2010 08:42 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Special Envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan S K Lambah held a series of consultations with top US officials on the current situation in the war ravaged and the way forward.

Lambah held a meeting with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon at the White House late Monday night. He also met Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

During the meetings, Lambah and the top US officials discussed the progress made in Afghanistan so far and how the two countries can work together to achieve their common objective of defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and help in the emergence of a stable and democratic Afghanistan.

Lambah's second trip to Washington in less than six months, the last one being in August, is part of the decision taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama to hold regular consultations on Afghanistan.

Afghanistan was a major issue of discussions when Obama visited India last month, which was easily reflected in the joint communique issued by the two leaders at the end of the trip on November 8.

Lambah, who arrived in Washington on Sunday, is scheduled to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. He is also scheduled to meet a number of Congressmen and think-tank, before he leaves the US on Wednesday.

The Obama Administration has openly praised India's role in development of Afghanistan, post-Taliban.

Since 2001, India has contributed more than $1.3 billion in development aid and has undertaken numerous infrastructure projects, including roads, dams, power stations and the Afghan Parliament building in Kabul.

"Through its aid efforts, India is feeding millions of Afghan schoolchildren, helping to provide power to the citizens of Kabul, and ensuring thousands of Afghans receive access to quality health care around the country," said a fact sheet issued by the White House.

Following their meeting in New Delhi, Obama and Singh had agreed to collaborate closely to assist the people of Afghanistan by identifying opportunities to leverage our relative strengths, experience and resources.

Noting that India and the US are working to improve women's economic empowerment as key to successful development efforts, the White House said the US currently promotes in-country women's equality programs throughout many of its programmes, including health, education, economic growth, agriculture, governance and rule of law.

Similarly, India has supported women's empowerment in Afghanistan by funding the creation of a women's vocational training centre in Kabul.

USAID will provide up to $1 million to an Indian NGO to empower Afghan women to achieve their full economic potential through employment and income-generating activities and developing the organization's institutional capacity to sustain this work.

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