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Menon meets Karzai, discusses terrorism

Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon is in Kabul on a two-day visit to review security of the Indian missions and workers in Afghanistan.
By HT Correspondent | PTI, Kabul
UPDATED ON JUL 13, 2008 09:05 PM IST

With increased threat to Indian assets in Afghanistan causing concern, New Delhi and Kabul on Sunday, favoured targeting the bases of terrorist outfits and their financial links to root out the menace from the region.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, who is in Kabul on a two-day visit to review security of the Indian missions and workers in the wake of the suicide attack on New Delhi's embassy, held talks with President Hamid Karzai.

During the 30-minute meeting, the two sides discussed the issue of security in the wake of the Monday suicide attack, which they felt was the handiwork of "enemies" of relations between the two countries.

Menon, who also met Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, was assured that the Afghan government would do everything possible to protect Indian assets in this country.

The two sides agreed that "terrorism is a threat to both the countries as well as stability and democracy of the region," Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad Baheen told PTI.

Karzai and Menon were of the view that it is "not enough to fight the symptom of terrorism" that is visible in Afghanistan but the menace should be "rooted out from the region by targeting bases, recruitment places and financial links," Baheen said.

Among the 58 dead in the Indian embassy attack, four were Indians, including a Brigadier-rank Defence Attache and a senior IFS officer.

On the embassy attack, the two sides felt that "enemies of the relations" between India and Afghanistan are responsible for it, Baheen said.

The spokesman did not identify these "enemies" but both Afghan and Indian governments have blamed Pakistan's ISI for the attack.

Menon appreciated the solidarity shown by the Afghan government and people after the attack and conveyed India's commitment to continue the reconstruction work in Afghanistan.

A memorial service was held at the Indian embassy on Sunday for the victims of the deadly suicide bombing, which was attended by the Afghan Foreign Minister along with Menon.

Menon is in Kabul to discuss with Afghan authorities measures to ensure proper security to Indian missions and about 3,000 Indians engaged in reconstruction and development works in the war-torn country.

Monday's bombing has sparked fresh worry in New Delhi especially with intelligence inputs suggesting that the Taliban were planning more attacks to target Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad.

The visit came on a day when the Indian embassy began issuing visas again.

Menon is to discuss with Afghan authorities ways to thwart and neutralise threats from Taliban and its mentor ISI following Monday's attack, officials said.

"It is not an ordinary review of the security. It is much more than discussing revamp of the security," an official told PTI in New Delhi while talking about Menon's two-day mission but did not elaborate.

Considering the high-level of threat, India has not ruled out deploying Army's Special Forces for security of the embassy in Kabul and consulates elsewhere in Afghanistan.

At present, the security is managed by ITBP personnel.

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