Krishna heading to Istanbul for Afghan conferenceOctober 31st, 2011 - 8:06 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) Buoyed by a strategic pact with Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is set to highlight India’s growing stakes in stability in the violence-ravaged country and the need for a regional approach at a key international conference in Istanbul Wednesday.
India will be participating at the Istanbul international conference on Afghanistan for the first time after being kept out at the behest of Pakistan’s military-dominated establishment last year.
Krishna’s presence at the summit will also underline an upswing in India’s relations with Turkey that suffered after Ankara’s snub last year and builds on the successful visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to that country in early October.
Krishna is expected to tell the conference about key features of the first-ever strategic partnership pact Afghanistan signed with India early this month and highlight the need for a regional approach to stabilising Afghanistan.
The pact contains a formal commitment by India, which already has pledged $2 billion for various reconstruction projects, to train the Afghan National Security Forces — indicating that New Delhi is likely to scale up its current training of Afghan security personnel.
Krishna is expected to stress on the need for an an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process and will reiterate the red lines for any power-sharing deal with the Taliban that includes the militants renouncing violence, severing links with Al Qeada and accepting the Afghan constitution.
The conference will debate the nature of international involvement in Afghanistan in view of the phased pullout of coalition troops from that country by 2014 and is said to be working to evolve a regional mechanism to monitor developments there.
Pakistan is said to be opposed to the regional mechanism as it may include India, whose growing involvement in Afghanistan is resented by the military-ISI establishment in Rawalpindi.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul is planning to host a trilateral meeting with Pakistani President Asif Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai Tuesday.
The conference will also focus on the fate of the reconciliation process that suffered a blow after the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan’s chief envoy for negotiations with the Taliban.
The Istanbul meet precedes a larger and more ambitious international conference on Afghanistan in Bonn in December.
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Tags: afghan, al qeada, ansari, behest, coalition troops, current training, external affairs minister, formal commitment, international involvement, krishna, pact, peace process, pullout, reconstruction projects, regional approach, regional mechanism, security forces, security personnel, strategic partnership, upswing