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India, Afghanistan to intensify security, defence cooperation

India Afghanistan to intensify security, defence cooperation As Afghanistan prepares for a democratic transition of power, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Afghan President Hamid Karzai held wide-ranging talks on Wednesay on the political and security situation in the war—torn country and agreed to intensify cooperation in areas like security and defence.

During the meeting, Ms. Swaraj expressed India’s strong commitment to continue extending its all possible help to Afghanistan to meet various challenges and conveyed that it will remain engaged in the country’s reconstruction activities in a significant way.

Both the sides underlined the need for expanding trade ties.

Ms. Swaraj, who is on her first visit to Kabul as External Affairs Minister, drove straight from the airport to the Presidential Palace where she held talks with Mr. Karzai on various key issues.

Sources said the entire political situation was also discussed during the meeting.

Ms. Swaraj said India will speed up various development projects in Afghanistan.

As NATO forces prepare to withdraw from the country, Afghanistan wants India to help it in meeting security challenges.

Afghanistan has been pressing India for supply of military hardware and weapons system to it.

Sources said the Afghan side conveyed to India its security needs.

Seeking to enhance strategic cooperation and help Afghanistan deal with key challenges of security and stability, Ms. Swaraj arrived here earlier in the day.

Ms. Swaraj’s visit also assumes significance as it comes amid rising fears of the reemergence of the Taliban and other al—Qaeda linked elements in the country following withdrawal of NATO forces by end of the year.

Afghanistan also awaits eagerly the result of the disputed second round of the Presidential election held on June 14. An audit of votes of the election has already been completed and results may be announced in the next few days.

Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani were in a tight race in the polls and the winner will succeed incumbent President Hamid Karzai who has been in power for nearly 13 years.

Afghanistan has been pressing India for supplying military hardware to strengthen its security set up in view of drawdown of NATO forces. Karzai has already given a “wish—list” to India.