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The Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, with the interim President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Wednesday. - Photo: V. Sudershan
NEW DELHI, FEB. 27. India today said it was ready to consider a proposal for sending forces to maintain calm in Afghanistan and unveiled a framework for stabilising the country's war-torn economy.
``So far as sending Indian troops to Afghanistan is concerned, there is no such proposal. If it is needed, we will consider it favourably,'' the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, said at a joint press conference this afternoon with the visiting Chairman of Afghanistan's interim administration, Hamid Karzai. Mr. Vajpayee made these observations when asked whether India was willing to contribute forces to the international security force in Afghanistan.
Responding to the same question, Mr. Karzai said the composition of the international security force in Afghanistan had so far been determined by the U.N. Security Council. ``It is up to the U.N. Security Council to determine it. If India has to play a role in it, Afghanistan will have no problems with that.''
India's decision to roll out the red carpet for Mr. Karzai is driven by three prime considerations, analysts say. First, India wants to reoccupy its standing in Afghanistan by reviving its age-old ties with the Afghan people. Second, it wishes to ensure that Afghan territory, as in the case of the Taliban rule, is not used as a springboard for exporting terrorism into Kashmir. Third, India wants to marginalise Pakistan's strategic influence in Afghanistan.
Mr. Karzai, on his part, is keen on ensuring that countries in the region that have an influence in major pockets of multi-ethnic Afghanistan are restrained from destabilising the country. The Afghan interim head, who arrived here from Iran, is also looking for Indian assistance for ``nation-building'' - especially for reviving Afghanistan's war ravaged economy and institutions.
While Afghanistan now depends on an international security force to maintain public order, it eventually wants to build its own army and police force. Not surprisingly, Mr. Karzai discussed India's possible contribution in rebuilding Afghanistan's army and police. These talks took place as part of New Delhi's offer to train government officials of Afghan Ministries. India, the sources said, was ready to receive Afghans in its military training institutions under a blue print for a future Afghan armed force being prepared by Britain. India is also well-acquainted with the Russian-origin equipment that is likely to form a major portion of Afghanistan's future defence forces.
The Prime Minister announced an immediate grant of $ 10 million for immediate utilisation by Afghanistan. Besides, New Delhi is providing computer hardware and software support to various Afghan Ministries.UNI reports:
The External Affairs Ministry today denied reports in a section of the press that Pakistan had refused permission to the Indian Air Force special aircraft to use its airspace to fly Mr. Karzai here yesterday for his official visit.
``There is no truth in these reports,'' a Ministry spokesperson said.
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