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India seeks early trilateral meeting on Afghanistan
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, June 30
As the 2014 deadline for NATO troop pullout from Afghanistan draws closer, New Delhi has sought an early meeting of the India-US-Afghanistan trilateral dialogue to consider ways and means to stabilise the situation in the battle-scarred nation.

The matter was raised during the talks between US Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins and Indian officials in New Delhi earlier this week.

The MEA confirmed that New Delhi had requested the US to indicate the dates so that the trilateral format of discussions could be taken forward. “We find it a good platform to use to pursue our development activities in Afghanistan in coordination with others,” said MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

The first such trilateral meeting was held in New York in September on the margins of the UN General Assembly, while the second meeting took place in New Delhi in February.

The trilateral forum works on almost everything, from combating terrorism to violent extremism, reviewing cultural exchanges to increasing regional trade, investment and economic integration. Both India and the US have been discussing joint development projects they could undertake in the war-torn country.

But both have clarified that the trilateral dialogue was not targeted against Pakistan, which has always been wary of New Delhi’s growing role in Afghanistan.

At the same time, New Delhi and Washington are concerned that Afghanistan should not slip into the hands of extremist and radical elements after the drawdown by foreign troops.

The US is also learnt to have reassured New Delhi that it would continue with a substantial presence in Afghanistan despite the withdrawal by its forces in 2014.

On the reconciliation process with the Taliban, New Delhi has firmly told Washington that the red lines drawn by the international community must be adhered to. The international community wants the reconciliation process to be Afghan-driven and consideration for reintegration with the Afghan society of only those who eschew violence and affirm their faith in the Afghan Constitution.

The Afghan issue is expected to be on top of the agenda of the global community in the coming months, given the fact that the situation in the country is far from normal but the foreign troops are all set to withdraw.

Afghanistan has, meanwhile, sought lethal weapons from India to ensure the security of the country. New Delhi is yet to take a call on it. 





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