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Pranab leaves for Kabul today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 22
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will hold talks with a wide range of Afghanistan’s leadership in Kabul. He leaves tomorrow for an overnight visit to the country.

Mr Mukherjee’s Afghanistan visit is primarily aimed at extending a formal invitation to President Karzai for attending the next SAARC summit here in April. Afghanistan is the newest member to join SAARC. However, Mr Mukherjee will be using the opportunity to have substantive talks with Mr Karzai and other Afghan leaders.

This will be the first ministerial visit from India to Afghanistan since the then External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh visited Kabul in 2005. India already has a massive assistance programme for Afghanistan pegged at $ 650 million per annum. The Cabinet Committee on Security has already decided to raise this amount by $100 million.

Mr Mukherjee returns home on January 24. He has already visited Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for extending SAARC summit invitees. Besides, he has also visited Myanmar, which is not a SAARC member.

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