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US-India agree 'keep in close touch' on Afghanistan

world Updated: Sep 28, 2010 22:48 IST
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Amid concerns over surge in terrorism and instability in Afghanistan, the US and India have agreed to "keep in close touch" about developments in the war-torn nation as Washington appreciated New Delhi's efforts in the country's development sector.

During a bilateral meeting between Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here, India and US also agreed to embark on a road of "triangular cooperation" in Afghanistan. According to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who accompanied Krishna for the bilateral with Clinton yesterday, both countries felt the "need to keep in close touch about developments in Afghanistan because they share the same goals and concerns" in combating terrorism and securing stability.

The top Indian diplomat told journalists that the US appreciated India's efforts in the development sector in Afghanistan, which included the empowerment of the weaker sections and women as well as other activities in health, education and communication sectors. US Assistant Secretary Robert Blake said Clinton and Krishna "discussed our shared commitment to Afghanistan." "Secretary Clinton thanked the minister for the extensive development assistance India has provided Afghanistan and she expressed US desire to continue to work closely in that important country," he told journalists after the key meeting.

They also decided to embark on a road of "triangular cooperation" in Afghanistan and African countries with a focus on developmental projects that all the three countries can work on together. In the coming few months, officials from the USAID and India will identify countries and projects, according to Rao. Pakistan has objected to India's presence in Afghanistan, and raised the matter with the US several times.

Under pressure from Islamabad, Washington has previously hinted at a lesser role for India in the war-torn country, which New Delhi has firmly rejected. With regard to the flood relief efforts in Pakistan, Blake noted that US welcomed India's contribution of USD 25 million contribution where the natural disaster has impacted 21 million people as well as destroyed large tracts of agriculture and infrastructure.

"The Secretary took the opportunity to thank Minister Krishna for India's USD 25 million contribution to flood relief for Pakistan," the top US official said. Clinton and Krishna are here to attend the opening session of the General Assembly, which kicked off last week, and is now winding down. Krishna will speak at the annual debate of the General Assembly tomorrow.