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India to discuss Afghanistan with Pak

delhi Updated: Jun 20, 2010 20:53 IST

IANS
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With intelligence reports indicating the possibility of attacks on Indian assets in Afghanistan, India on Sunday said the issue will figure during the foreign secretary level talks in Islamabad next week and indicated that it was ready for a larger discussion on the situation in the violence-torn country.

India has made it clear that it is ready to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan when Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao holds talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in Islamabad on Thursday.

Rao is expected to voice India's continuing concerns over terrorism directed by elements across the order and press Islamabad for concrete action against anti-India groups.

During the discussions on terrorism, official sources said here, India will raise repeated attacks on on Indian projects and people in Afghanistan in the last few years.

These attacks are suspected to be masterminded by Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) which is said to resent India's growing range of reconstruction activities that has generated enormous goodwill for the country.

With Afghanistan emerging as a potential theatre of rivalry, India has signalled that it was ready to discuss the larger Afghan situation with Islamabad during the foreign-secretary level talks.

"If they want to raise it, we will not shy away from discussing it,” said the sources.

In the 1980s, the two sides discussed Afghanistan regularly. However, with the changing geopolitical situation in the region, specially after the ouster of the Taliban regime in 2001, Pakistan has repeatedly questioned India's growing profile in Afghanistan and launched a diplomatic campaign aimed at reducing New Delhi's influence in that country.

"It's for Pakistan to understand India's role in reconstruction of Afghanistan," said the sources.

Outlining India's position, Rao stressed at a recent seminar that India neither saw Afghanistan as a battleground for competing national interests nor assistance to Afghan reconstruction and development as a zero sum game.

With Pakistan in mind, Rao alluded to $1.3 billion India's assistance for building infrastructure and capacity building and made it clear that "these are by no definition, activities that are inimical to the interest of the people of Afghanistan or its neighbours".