India, US commit to Afghanistan’s future

May 8th, 2012 - 8:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) India and US Tuesday committed themselves to assist Afghanistan on a “peaceful and prosperous” future and in ensuring that its capacities are built to handle its own security, development and governance.

After an hour-long bilateral meeting here, India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said they drew their strength in their support to Afghanistan from the respective bilateral strategic partnership agreements.

India had signed the agreement with Afghanistan last year, while US President Barack Obama was in Kabul last week to sign the pact with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai.

“We have made it clear that we intend to remain with an after presence in Afghanistan and support Afghanistan in their security and stability. We will continue to support in building their capacity in their government, economic growth and development,” Clinton said at a joint press conference.

She was asked about the embattled nation’s future in the context of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) drawdown plans for 2014.

“Our consultations with India on Afghanistan are very substantive and helpful,” she said referring to the Indian and American strategic partnership pacts.

Krishna noted that Afghanistan had made “significant progress” in the last decade and that US had made enormous contribution in this regard.

“Afghanistan is at a crucial juncture as it begins to assume greater responsibility of governance, development and security. But the important signal that the international community has to give is a strong, sustained commitment to Afghanistan,” Krishna said.

“I am confident Afghanistan will be a sovereign, independent, united, and economically viable state capable of defeating terrorism and keep out interference from outside. India sees US’ strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan in that spirit,” he said.

Clinton, who was here on a three-day visit and met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday, said though the ISAF’s combat mission will end in 2014, the US and NATO will maintain a commitment of security and development support and continue their presence there.

“The details of that are being worked out,” she said.

Clinton also said the US will, after the strategic partnership agreement, now negotiate a security agreement. “There are couple of milestones up ahead,” she said referring to the NATO meeting in Chicago in two weeks that will discuss the transition, the India-hosted meeting on private investments in Afghanistan in June, and the Japan-hosted donors meet in July.

“So the international community is very engaged in Afghanistan. It is imperative that we continue to work together to provide as much support for a stable, secure Afghanistan that we look forward,” she said.

Regarding the security and safety issues, Krishna said elimination of safe havens in Pakistan “is indeed vital” for Afghanistan and regional security and stability.

“We remain supportive of any reconciliation effort…as long as it is owned by Afghan people and it embraces all sections of the Afghan society,” he added.

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