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Security issues, dev projects figure in Indo-Afghan talks

S. Jaishankar in Afghanistan

Kabul: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar today held talks with Afghanistan’s top leadership here which mainly focussed on India’s development projects and the security situation in the war-torn country.

Wrapping up the first leg of his ‘SAARC Yatra’ aimed at firming up India’s ties with members of the grouping while reviewing regional and bilateral cooperation, the Foreign Secretary flew into Kabul from Islamabad and called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah among other leaders.

During his meetings, Afghan leaders welcomed India being “partner of choice” for Afghanistan and briefed Jaishankar about their views on India’s involvement in furthering the cause of stability and security in the country.

According to officials, the main thrust during the meetings was on India’s development projects in Afghanistan, ways to improve connectivity and the security situation in the war-ravaged country.

Afghanistan leaders also welcomed India being a “partner of choice” for the country during the interactions with Jaishankar, the officials said.

The Foreign Secretary also called on Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani besides former president Hamid Karzai.

Jaishankar also met Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai and held extensive talks.

The Foreign Secretary, who arrived here amid light snow, was received by senior Afghan officials and Indian High Commissioner Amar Sinha at the airport.

With today’s trip to Afghanistan, Jaishankar rounded off the first leg of his ‘SAARC Yatra’ that began on Sunday with Bhutan. He subsequently visited Bangladesh and Pakistan as part of the yatra.

Afghanistan was recently hit by a massive avalanche that claimed nearly 250 lives. Following the tragedy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had written to Afghan President Ghani to condole the loss of lives and offered help in rescue and relief efforts.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – an economic and geopolitical grouping of eight countries located in South Asia – includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka as its members.

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