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India committed to rebuilding Afghanistan: Singh

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai (R) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. – Reuters Photo

NEW DELHI: India's prime minister assured the visiting Afghan leader Thursday that New Delhi remains firmly committed to help reconstruction efforts and promote democracy in the war-ravaged country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged India's help in securing Afghanistan during wide-ranging talks with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, India's ministry of external affairs said in a joint statement issued at the end of the talks.

Singh and Karzai, who was on a two-day visit, discussed regional security and the threats posed to both the countries by a resurgent Taliban and extremist groups based in Pakistan.

The two leaders also discussed ways to stabilize Afghanistan as the date for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan draws closer. The US plans to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July with the aim of handing over responsibility for the country's security to Afghan forces. NATO aims to pull all its troops out by 2014.

India and Afghanistan have had strong diplomatic and trade ties since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Over the past decade, India has spent more than $1 billion to help rebuild Afghanistan's war-damaged infrastructure by building roads, schools, hospitals and dams. India is also involved in training the country's police forces, lawmakers and its diplomatic corps.

Karzai was scheduled to leave later Thursday for Germany to attend the Munich security conference.


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