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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No plans to send troops to Afghanistan: India

NEW DELHI, March 16: India had no plans to send troops to Afghanistan, a minister in the ruling Congress-led UPA government said, putting to rest speculation about New Delhi’s future course of action as the US and its Nato allies reviewed their strategy on the war in Afghanistan. "No. We have always ruled it out," minister of state of external affairs Anand Sharma said in an interview to this newspaper. He iterated that India would stay the course and continue to contribute to development of the war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Mr Sharma said India was undertaking projects to build power grid infrastructure, strategic road links, educational institutions and information technology centres in Afghanistan and "this work we will continue [to do]".
"We are watching the developments there. We will do everything possible for rebuilding of that country and for its development, including creation of infrastructure, capacity building and human resource development," he added.
The minister’s remarks came amid suggestions by Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor that the political leadership had to decide whether to go beyond providing soft assistance and consider Indian military presence in Afghanistan.
South Block sources were to quick to point out that foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon had let US National Security Adviser General James Jones and other officials in the Barack Obama-administration know that military strategies alone were not enough to bring stability to the region.
Mr Sharma sought to caution the international community on talks with the Taliban, alluding to reports that Taliban leader Mullah Omar had agreed to send his representatives for participating in the Saudi Arabia-mediated negotiations aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan.
"There has to be a robust and well-coordinated response both in the regional and in the global context and we cannot be selective in our approach. This ideology of terror and violence has to be opposed [and] confronted. Beyond that we are neither involved in any such process nor are we aware of [or] privy to [it]," he said, when asked about reports that some of the preliminary talks by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz took place in New Delhi.
[Asian Age]

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