Washington, Sept.26 : Thursday's dinner meeting at the White House saw President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh exchanging notes on Afghanistan and reviewing developments in South Asia.
According to Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, there was a discussion on the regional situation. He also said that the situation in the Pakistan was discussed as well, but was not a large part of the discussion.
"As I said, they all figured in the discussions --terror, stabilization of Afghanistan etc. discussed because in his statement President Bush said that he had sought PM's advice on this?
When asked whether there was a discussion on India's involvement in Afghanistan? Menon said: "Yes, South Asia was discussed. We are already very involved in Afghanistan. Our assistance commitment today is almost 1.2 billion dollars. There is about 4000 Indians working today in Afghanistan for peaceful reconstruction. That's a sizeable number."
"It is for the economic development, it is for the restoration of the economy, it is for the hospitals, schools. Now even in culture, we have committed to set up a cultural university. It cuts across every sector. There is a programme to get nutritious wheat biscuit to children in school throughout Afghanistan. This actually shows India's commitment as being very strong and that will continue. This is a response to Afghan need and to what Afghanistan feels she wants," he added.
He also said that India's participation in Afghanistan's rehabilitation had nothing to do with any larger multinational force or anything.
"We have not participated in that, we don't have a military presence and we don't intend to change that," he said.
When asked whether the United States had asked India to undertake specific action in Afghanistan, Menon replied: "Please ask US that question. We did not hear any demands from them. He (Bush) sought advice." By Naveen Kapoor