World Bulletin / News Desk
India expressed opposition on Thursday to the complete pullout of foreign forces from Afghanistan being contemplated by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama in the event the U.S. and Afghanistan cannot agree on the terms of a longer international presence.
Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Afghanistan was at a critical juncture, and continued international support was essential for the country to achieve peace and stability after years of strife. Khurshid questioned the exit strategy for U.S. and NATO troops.
“People may have many strategies, but one strategy India rejects is an exit strategy for Afghanistan,” Khurshid said, speaking at the inaugural session of the conclave of International Contact Group on Afghanistan and Pakistan in New Delhi.
The U.S. had wanted a Bilateral Security Agreement to be signed before the end of 2013, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai has yet to sign it. He has asked the U.S. to first stop the searching and bombing of Afghan houses during military operations and to support meaningful talks with Taliban, led by only Afghan government.
Thursday's conclave was the first multinational brainstorming session of 2014, considered a watershed year for Afghanistan - one in which the country will witness both security and political transitions.
The International Contact Group on Afghanistan and Pakistan is a bloc of 53 countries, and is the main forum for political coordination of international efforts to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
On Friday, New Delhi will host the 10th meeting of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, also called the Heart of Asia process. Fourteen member states, including Turkey, 16 supporting members and 11 international organizations have been invited to the meeting.Last Mod: 17 Ocak 2014, 09:12