Karzai to discuss Indian mission bombing during visit

August 3rd, 2008 - 9:55 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) With the July 7 bombing attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul fresh in memory, India and Afghanistan will discuss ways to counter terror, including the suspected involvement of Pakistan’s spy agency in it, as President Hamid Karzai arrives here Sunday night to hold talks with a concerned Indian leadership. Karzai comes here on a two-day state visit from Colombo, where he is attending the 15th SAARC summit along with Manmohan Singh and other leaders of South Asian countries.

Karzai will be given a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Monday morning before he begins his official engagements. Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta and National Security Advisor Zalmai Rassoul will accompany Karzai on this important visit to India.

The India-educated Karzai will hold talks with Manmohan Singh on a wide array of bilateral and regional issues, including the multimillion dollar Indian assistance for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the acceleration in Taliban-led violence in Afghanistan that is directly impinging on security of the region.

The discussions will focus on the alleged role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the July 7 attack on the Indian mission in Kabul that killed a diplomat and a defence attaché of brigadier rank and two Indian guards in the first terror attack on an Indian mission abroad.

India has blamed Pakistan’s ISI for the blasts that killed, besides the four Indians, 54 Afghans. Afghanistan, too, has blamed a “an intelligence agency in the region” for the terror attack - a none-too-veiled reference to the ISI.

Karzai himself has indicated the involvement of the foreign hand in the blasts and called it the handiwork of those who are opposed to the India-Afghanistan friendship.

The talks between Karzai and Manmohan Singh will take place close on the heels of their meeting at the SAARC summit in Colombo that discussed a regional mechanism to curb terrorism in the region.

Dates for a formal inauguration of the crucial India-aided Zaranj-Delaram road that has been the target of the Taliban militia in the last few years will also be discussed between the two sides.

The meeting also comes days after top US officials have told a leading US daily that they had evidence linking the ISI to the blasts at the Indian mission in Kabul.

Besides Manmohan Singh, Karzai will also meet President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari, ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani.

Patil will host a banquet in Karzai’s honour Monday night before he returns to Kabul the next day.

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