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Inclusion of Afghanistan in SAARC will help establish peace: India
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January 24, 2007 01:37 IST

India on Tuesday said the inclusion of Afghanistan in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation would go a long way in establishing lasting peace and stability in the region.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, speaking at a reception by the Indian community in Kabul, said Afghanistan's membership was important from "a strategic point of view."

Mukherjee, on a day's visit to invite President Hamid Karzai to the forthcoming SAARC summit in New Delhi in April, earlier told a newsconference that Afghanistan --- in what will be the first ever expansion of SAARC -- will be admitted as its full fledged member at the summit.

Underlining the importance of the move, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said the membership would be "one more step towards the integration of South Asia."

Menon, in reply to a query, said the two sides share common concerns about terrorism and would like to see an end to the menace in the region.

"The peaceful evolution of Afghanistan is important to India and the region," he added.

On the issue of fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Menon said India would like to see an amicable resolution of the issue between the two countries.

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