India to extend more training to Afghan armed forces

June 3rd, 2011 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, June 3 (IANS) With Pakistan intensifying its efforts to influence the Afghan reconciliation process and the phased pullout of US forces from that country set to begin within a month, India Friday said it was willing to extend more training to Afghanistan’s armed forces and government.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony said India wanted to help the Afghan people and government during their “difficulties and transition”.

“India is a long-standing friend of Afghanistan. There has been thousands of years of friendship between the people of both India and Afghanistan and their governments…cultural relations, historical relations, and sentimental relations. So we want to help the people of Afghanistan in their difficulties,” Antony told reporters here on the sidelines of a defence ministry event.

“We want a strong, democratic and pluralistic, peaceful Afghanistan. They are in transition, they are in difficulty. So as a friend, India is trying to help them…only in the area of development, reconstruction, education, health and humanitarian development. Along with that, we promised them India is willing to extend them more training facilities for their armed forces and also more support for the Afghan government,” he added.

Noting that the Indian help would be dictated by Afghanistan’s “requirements”, the defence minister made it clear that it would be within the Afghan government’s “comfort level.”

“Whatever help India is extending to Afghanistan, it is not against any country. Our relations with Afghanistan is not against any country,” he stressed, but the oblique reference was to Pakistan.

Afghan Defence Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak was on a three-day visit to India that concluded Friday during which he had met Antony and other top Indian security brass.

Pointing out that India’s relationship with Afghanistan was “unique”, Antony said his discussions with his Afghan counterpart were “very useful and cordial”.

“His recent visit has further strengthened relations,” he added.

Antony said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kabul last month was a “landmark” trip. “It is a historical visit. Our relations are on the whole always cordial and are strengthening,” he added.

Manmohan Singh had announced additional development aid of $500 million to the Afghan government, over and above the $1.5 billion India has already pledged over the last decade.

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