In his first detailed engagement with Afghanistan's newly elected president, Ashraf Ghani, Prime Minister Narendra Modi keenly listened to his views and strategy to deal with terror and the security transition underway. Security was also a key thread in the conversation with Bangladesh's PM Sheikh Hasina - in their first meeting after the Burdwan blast revelations. Modi also met Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bhutan's PM Tshering Tobgay and Maldives president Abdulla Yameen on the sidelines of the SAARC summit on Wednesday afternoon.
Briefing reporters, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that Modi and Ghani had a 'fairly extensive discussion' on security issues, with Ghani explaining how he is viewing the situation and his policies. "Afghanistan's stability and security impacts india." The two leaders also spoke about the threats to, and security of Indian consulates in Afghanistan. Modi.
The PM extended an invitation to Ghani, and his visit is likely early next year. Ghani said he saw India as 'central to economic prosperity in Afghanistan' and sought investment in specific sectors, but he added he would come with concrete proposals during his trip. Ghani also spoke of Afghanistan as an energy hub of the region.
Ghani has, since taking over, visited China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. While sources in Kabul told HT that he has been in very close contact with Indian diplomats there, some in the Indian strategic community have raise eyebrows if this spells a different approach than his predecessor Hamid Karzai, who was close to India and saw Pakistan as a part of the problem. Sources said that the Modi-Ghani meeting was important to 'understand Kabul's regional strategy'.
In talks between Modi and Hasina, both spoke about the 'imperative of cooperating in tackling terror menace to all pluralist societies'. "They had a fairly detailed exchange on issues of security and terror and were happy with the cooperation." The land boundary agreement too figured in the discussions, with Modi briefing Hasina on where it stood on the legislative stream and how India was working towards building a consensus on it.
After meetings with Rajapaksa and Yameen, it was also decided that the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will visit Sri Lanka and Maldives to discuss among other issues, maritime security by the end of the month or early next month.