US should not repeat Iraq-like mistake in Afghanistan: Modi

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Sep 30, 2014 08:17 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said India would like the US withdrawal from Afghanistan to proceed “very slow” so as to not repeat an Iraq-like mistake.

“A mistake like Iraq should not be committed,” the prime minister said at a think tank, citing the consequences of rapid withdrawal of US forces from that country.

Afghanistan, he said, should at the end of the withdrawal process be in a position to sustain itself and prevent the Taliban from returning. “The process of withdrawal must be very slow.”

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To a question about the need for outside arbitration to resolve Indian’s border dispute with China, the prime minister said the two countries were capable of dealing with it on their own. And that there is hope the dispute will be resolved soon.

Earlier in the day, some of the world’s most powerful business leaders streamed in and out of a Manhattan hotel to hear Modi re-sell them an investment destination given up for dead lately.

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“India is open-minded. We want change. Change that is not 1 sided, Modi told them," according to a tweet from MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

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Modi started with a breakfast meeting with 11 of them, including Google’s Eric Schmidt, PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, and Merck’s Kenneth C Frazier.

Those who had one-on-ones with the prime minister were Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein, James McNerney, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, GE’s Jeff Immelt, Blackrock’s Laurence D Fink and KKR’s Henry Kravis.

That list, analysts said, reflected best Modi’s plan to get investors back to India, and to invest in manufacturing, in line with Make in India, an initiative he launched recently.

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“The mood at the meetings were very positive and forward looking,” said a source, adding, “There was none of the negativity that had impeded investments recently.”

Schmidt spoke about Google’s Digital India initiatives.

AES, a power group, expressed concerns concerns about a recent Supreme Court ruling on coal mines. The prime minister assured them the government was on top of it.

Though every one of the 17 business leaders that Modi met were important, and were either already invested in India massively, the composition of the list reflected his priorities.

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The big investment banks that move much of the money around the world - Goldman Sachs, Blackrock and KKR all got one-on-ones with the prime minister (apart form Warburg Pincus and Carlyle who were in the breakfast group).

And so did some of the big manufacturing companies such as GE, which has been present in India since 1902, and Boeing, which has investments in the pipeline.

IBM, one of the world’s largest services company that has a massive presence in India, also got a one-on-one, which could be in keeping with its role in the outsourcing industry.

IBM aslo bears an outsized influence on the ongoing immigration debate and plans to curtail the number of high-tech workers from India employed by Indian IT firms here.

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