Karzai to brief Manmohan on new Taliban strategy

New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) Afghan President Hamid Karzai comes here Tuesday on a two-day visit that will see New Delhi and Kabul firming up a crucial strategic partnership pact and expanding counter-terror cooperation.

Karzai, who comes here against the backdrop of Afghanistan's souring relations with Pakistan, is expected to brief Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his revised strategy for reconciliation with the Taliban in the aftermath of the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, his chief interlocutor with the Taliban.

Karzai has indicated he is reviewing his strategy for making peace with the Taliban. He has also voiced frustration with the failure to establish contact with senior Afghan Taliban leaders like supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and stressed the need for talks with Pakistan.

Against this background, Karzai is expected to consult Manmohan Singh over ways to bring peace and stability to his violence-torn country, reliable sources said.

In an important step, India and Afghanistan are expected to firm up a strategic partnership agreement that was envisaged in the May 12 joint declaration during Manmohan Singh's visit to Kabul.

The strategic pact is aimed at bolstering cooperation against international terror and could include India training Afghan security forces for counter-terror operations.

The pact could lead to institutionalising dialogue at the level of the National Security Adviser to discuss the security issues.

India has pledged $2 billion for a slew of development projects in Afghanistan, making it one of the largest regional donors to the violence-hit country.

Karzai will deliver a lecture, chaired by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, on India-Afghanistan relations at the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank, Wednesday.

Issues relating to expanding trade, commerce and connectivity with a view to making Afghanistan a hub for regional trade will figure in the discussions, said a reliable source.

Rabbani, a former Afghan president, was heading the Afghan High Council which was entrusted with the talk of reconciliation with the Taliban. He was assassinated by a suicide bomber outside his home in Kabul Sep 20.

A statement released by Karzai's presidential palace in Kabul Sunday said new evidence showed that Rabbani's killer was "a citizen of Pakistan".

The statement also asked Pakistan to extradite people involved in the assassination of Rabbani, marking a further downturn in Afghan-Pakistan relations which have been strained by Pakistan's suspected continuing support to the Taliban militants.

Pakistan's Foreign Office has strongly rejected the allegations of the ISI's involvement in Rabbani's killing.


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Title: Karzai to brief Manmohan on new Taliban strategy

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