Karzai to visit India (Lead)

July 31st, 2008 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) Afghan President Hamid Karzai will pay a state visit to India Aug 4 on his way home from a South Asian summit in Sri Lanka, it was announced here Thursday. Accompanying the president during the daylong trip will be Foreign Affairs Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta and the National Security Advisor.

President Pratibha Patil will host a banquet for her counterpart. Karzai will then hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna told reporters.

Sarna gave no details, but Karzai and Manmohan Singh are expected to discuss bilateral and other issues.

Among those who will call on him include Vice President Hamid Ansari, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani.

Karzai and Manmohan Singh will be among leaders from eight countries who will attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Colombo Aug 2-3.

Karzai’s trip comes amid mounting worries in both India and Afghanistan about the growing activities of the Taliban militia, which many feel continues to enjoy the backing of the Pakistani intelligence establishment.

Karzai had strongly condemned the July 7 devastating suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul that killed 44 people. Barring four Indians, all others were Afghans. It was the first attack on an Indian mission anywhere in the world.

Afghan officials implicitly blamed Pakistan for the bombing.

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