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Karzai arrives tomorrow on four-day State visit

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 8: Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai will arrive here tomorrow on a significant four-day State visit to India for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders on the entire gamut of bilateral relations focussing on development and consolidation of democracy in his country.

The Afghan President was earlier scheduled to visit India for six days. His private visit to Shimla on April 13 was called off because of some political engagements back home.

However, Mr Karzai will visit Hyderabad as scheduled on April 11 and return the next day. He will leave for Kabul on April 13.

A spokesman of the External Affairs Ministry said President Karzai will be accompanied by about 10 Ministers and Ministerial-level advisers, in addition to members of the Afghan National Assembly, officials and a high-level business delegation.

After his arrival tomorrow afternoon, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed will call on Mr Karzai.

On Monday, the Afghan President will be accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Later in the day, he will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on regional and bilateral issues. The issue of terrorism is also likely to dominate the discussions, the sources said.

After the talks, the two countries will sign three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on Rural Development, Education Exchange Programme and Standardisation between Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Afghan National Standardisation Authority.

Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi will also call on him.

Mr Karzai will have a meeting with President A P J Abdul Kalam who will host a banquet in honour of the visiting dignitary. In the afternoon, President Karzai will attend a joint business meeting hosted by FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM along with the business delegation from Afghanistan. He will also inaugurate the first-ever festival of Afghanistan in India on April 11 In Hyderabad, the Afghan President will visit Hi-Tech City, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., National Remote Sensing Agency and a rural development project, organised by National Institute of Rural Development.

He had earlier visited India in February 2002 as chairman of the Interim Administration, in March 2003 as President of Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan and in February 2005 as President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The last visit to Kabul from India was that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 28-29, 2005.

Afghanistan accuses Islamabad of fomenting trouble in the country and promoting terrorism across the border. Although Pakistan denies the allegations, some recent incidents have caused bad blood between the two countries.

India is one of the six top donors of aid to Afghanistan and has given about 600 million dollars assistance to the war-torn country for reconstruction activities.

Besides, India is actively involved in various development projects in that country including construction of roads, the Parliament House building in Kabul and other infrastructure that was damaged during the decades-old civil war.

It is also assisting the Afghanistan government in training its Armed Forces, police personnel, diplomats and educationists among others.

The visit, seen as a major step to boost ties between the two countries, comes weeks after US President George Bush made a brief stopover in that country while on his way to India.



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