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January 24, 2002
Updates: 2145 IST

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Vivek Katju named envoy to Afghanistan

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi

Senior Indian Foreign Service officer Vivek Katju was on Thursday named India's ambassador to Afghanistan.

An external affairs ministry spokesperson told reporters in New Delhi that Katju, at present India's ambassador to Myanmar, is expected to take up his assignment shortly.

A 1975 batch IFS officer, Katju was joint secretary in the external affairs ministry in charge of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan for six years. Katju had interacted with the Northern Alliance leadership and is said to have extensive knowledge about Afghan affairs.

In 1999, Katju headed the team of Indian officials who had gone to Kandahar to negotiate the release of passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane.

India snapped diplomatic ties with Afghanistan in 1996 soon after the Taliban took over Kabul. Aris Qamrain was at that time India's ambassador to Afghanistan.

India opened a liaison office in Kabul soon after the Northern Alliance captured Kabul. This was converted into the embassy on December 22 last year, the day the Hamid Karzai-led interim government in Afghanistan was installed

Meanwhile, the first international flight of Afghan Airlines in three years landed in New Delhi on Thursday with Kabul declaring that regular once-a-week flights to India would be resumed soon.

The Ariana Airlines Boeing 727 carrying that country's Civil Aviation Minister Abdul Rehman, president of the airline Ruhullah Aman Khan and 21 others touched down at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at 1340 hours, an hour behind schedule.

The dignitaries were received by Civil Aviation Minister Shahnawaz Hussain, India's special envoy on Afghanistan S K Lambah and senior civil aviation officials.

America's War on Terror: The Complete Coverage
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