NEW DELHI (TIP): Afghanistan has sought India’s economic and military assistance to help the embattled nation stand on its own feet after the drawdown by NATO troops in 2014. Visiting Afghanistan Second Vice-President Mohammad Karim Khalili today held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders on the unfolding scenario in Afghanistan. He is understood to have discussed the steps that could be taken by the two countries in the coming days under the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the two nations in October 2011. Along with commitment to help Afghanistan develop in the fields of education and infrastructure, the agreement entails military support from India in the form of capacity building and equipment for the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Afghan National Army (ANA).

India is hosting Khalili with an eye on the looming political transition that is expected to take place in Afghanistan next year after the withdrawal of foreign forces. Khalili is accompanied by Afghan Economic Minister Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, Higher Education Minister Obaidullah Obaid and Afghan Army Chief of Staff Sher Mohammad Karimi. His visit assumes significance against the backdrop of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, during his visit to India in May, had handed over a military wish-list to Indian officials. A number of Indian officials have also visited Kabul in recent days to discuss the needs of the Afghan security forces. During his meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee, Khalili thanked India for the assistance extended to his country and invited Indian companies to invest in Afghanistan, especially in the mining sector. The Indian President assured the Afghan leader that India was committed to assist Afghanistan in the critical period of transition, development and nation-building. India was committed to Afghanistan at the political and strategic level well beyond 2014 when international forces are scheduled to depart.

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