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Karzai, Vajpayee talk of Pakistan's terrorism

Aziz Haniffa in New York | September 24, 2003 09:57 IST

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday made common cause over their mutual concern over cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

During their meeting at New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Vajpayee reiterated India's commitment toward the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Complete coverage of Vajpayee's visit

Indian officials told rediff.com that Karzai expressed 'great concern' at increased activity at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which intelligence agencies said indicated the revival of Taliban. Many of its militiamen had fled to Pakistan's North West Frontier Province in the wake of the US-led war against Al Qaeda.

There have also been intelligence reports that some ISI elements may once again be helping the Taliban to regroup. These elements, said the reports, had the backing the former Afghan Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is also said to be in the NWFP.

Karzai, Indian officials noted, said this cross-border activity from Pakistan 'required greater attention from the international community'. "Otherwise it negatively impacts the successful efforts being made to stabilize Afghanistan," Karzai said.

Vajpayee also met Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister of Portugal J M Barroso.

Wickremesinghe briefed Vajpayee on the current status of the Norwegian-brokered peace process between his government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The process has been in limbo for the past couple of months.

Wickremesinghe also told Vajpayee that he was looking forward to his forthcoming visit to India next month and both leaders committed themselves to the strengthening of bilateral relations, particularly on the economic front, with another round of talks on the partnership agreement to be held later this month.

Since the beginning of the peace process, significant Indian investment has flowed to Sri Lanka. The island nation has also become a popular tourist destination for Indians.

In Vajpayee's discussions with Barroso, besides routine bilateral matters, there was agreement on the need to cooperate in the fight against terrorism. Barroso also promised to move expeditiously on an extradition treaty.

"It was also decided that a joint committee should be set up to strengthen economic cooperation, explore new areas and methods of diversification," an official said.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha attended the luncheon for world leaders and foreign ministers hosted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and later in the evening attended a reception given by President George Bush.

He also met with his counterparts from Sudan, Romania and Bangladesh, but his meeting with the Iraqi representative of the Governing Council handling foreign affairs had to be shifted to a later date due to 'scheduling difficulties'.

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