India signed on to a trilateral dialogue with the United States and Afghanistan on Wednesday to help Kabul on governance, development and security, although both the countries have separate agreements with Afghanistan.
A joint statement issued by India and the US at the end of the third strategic dialogue on Wednesday said: "They (India and the US) intend to explore opportunities to work together to promote Afghanistan's development, including in areas such as agriculture, mining, energy, capacity building and infrastructure."
When asked if security could form a part of the dialogue, Indian foreign minister SM Krishna said, "Security would certainly form an important segment." But then he corrected himself. Reading from a note slipped to him by an official, he said the dialogue was about "peace and stability" in Afghanistan.
That was a curious contortion, as India already committed itself to Afghanistan's security in an October 2011 agreement that said India would assist "in the training, equipping and capacity-building programmes for the Afghan National Security Forces".
It's quite clear that as the US prepares to leave Afghanistan from 2013, it has been seen trying to encourage regional partners to share some of its erstwhile load. Turkey, for one, hosted a conference of Afghanistan's neighbours in November 2011. India attended it after being forced out by Pakistan in 2010.
The two countries referred to Pakistan's role in Afghanistan, but only to underscore its support for terrorists, a sore point with both New Delhi and Washington.
India is hosting a conference - backed by the US, its officials have let it be known - later this month to attract investments for Afghanistan.