Afghan president heads to India to cement ties

Afghan president heads to India to cement ties
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First Published: Sun, Aug 03 2008. 10 24 AM IST
Updated: Sun, Aug 03 2008. 10 24 AM IST
By
Reuters
New Delhi: Afghan President Hamid Karzai iarrives in New Delhi today, just weeks after a suicide bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul underscored the security tensions in the region.
Afghanistan, India and the US have accused Pakistan’s spy agency of being involved in the July bombing that killed at least 58 people, including two Indian diplomats. Islamabad denies any involvement.
The attack was a blow to a tentative peace process between India and Pakistan that highlighted how Afghanistan could quickly become another source of diplomatic tension between the two nuclear-armed neighbours already divided over the Kashmir region.
Analysts say that Pakistan is worried about India’s increasing influence in Afghanistan, the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars of Indian development aid in recent years.
“India is one of the biggest aid donors to Afghanistan,” said C. Raja Mohan, an Indian foreign affairs analyst based in Singapore. “From a geopolitical and aid stand, the issue for India will be about how to improve security as ties grow closer.”
Karzai will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday. Both Singh and Karzai share a common interest in stopping any Pakistan-sponsored violence and talks will probably centre on this issue, analysts say.
India said after the Kabul attack that its peace process with Pakistan was “under stress” because its traditional foe was “inciting terror” inside India and trying to hit its interests abroad.
Singh and Karzai might use the meeting to show unity in their hardening of views to Pakistan. “I am not expecting any dramatic shift in relations. Relations are as close as they can be,” said Ajai Sahni, of the Institute for Conflict Management.“But we may see a common hardening of their posture to Pakistan. And India may even announce more aid programs for Afghanistan,” Sahni said.
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First Published: Sun, Aug 03 2008. 10 24 AM IST