KABUL): Leading a high-level delegation, President Hamid Karzai left for India on Thursday afternoon on a four-day official visit to hold talks with Indian leadership on bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries, his office said.
During his four-day visit, President Karzai is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and other Indian officials to discuss ways to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation, the Presidential Palace in Kabul said in a statement.
It said the President will also address an International Relations Conference titled “India and Development Partnerships in Asia and Africa: Towards a New Paradigm”, organized by Symbiosis International University.
In a previous statement issued a day earlier, the Presidential Palace President Karzai was visiting India on the invitation of Manmohan Singh and he will hold talks with his guests on bilateral cooperation in various fields under the strategic agreement between the two countries.
Karzai in his last meeting with Singh had sought greater military and civilian support to fill the vacuum created by the withdrawal of Western forces, a demand which is being considered by the government of India. The issue is expected to figure again during the talks between Singh and Karzai.
Other key issues expected to figure during the talks would include proposed Afghan-US security pact which Karzai has refused to ink demanding that the US must put an immediate end to military raids on Afghan homes and demonstrate its commitment to peace talks before he would sign the agreement.
President Karzai will be visiting India in connection with an invitation with education Affairs Ministry said, adding the last time also when he was invited by a private university, the Afghan President, who is a honoured guest, also met all sections of leadership.
His spokesman Aimal Faizi said President Karzai will be meeting a number of Indian traders and research organisations officials and representatives of Indian and foreign journalists.
He said Afghanistan and India had strong bilateral relations and that India had so far invested more than $2 billion in aid in various Afghan sectors, including roads.
On the trip, Karzai is accompanied by his national security advisor Rangin Dadfar Spanta, acting foreign minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani, acting commerce and industry minister Shakir Kargar and other high officials.
Afghan Ambassador in New Delhi Shaida M Abdali said Karzai will apprise the Indian leadership about the current situation in the country, particularly the peace process and also discuss on what would be the way ahead for the country.
“President is coming to India in this crucial period of history to apprise the Indian leadership on the current situation in Afghanistan, ground realities and to think far ahead, given the significance of the ties now, in 2014 and beyond,” Abdali said.
Karzai’s visit, his 14th in 12 years and third within a year, comes at a time when his country is facing the drawdown of NATO troops, uncertainty over its signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the US and just a few months to go for the elections.