Afghanistan discusses defense ties with India

AP News
Posted: Jun 01, 2011 5:45 AM
Afghanistan discusses defense ties with India

Afghanistan's defense minister and his Indian counterpart talked Wednesday on defense cooperation as the war-torn country prepares to handle its own security by 2014.

Afghanistan is stepping up the training and preparedness of its troops as U.S. and NATO forces leave by 2014. The United States plans to start withdrawing its troops in July.

Afghanistan's Abdul Rahim Wardak told reporters before the talks that his country would welcome "cooperation in the field of training and helping the Afghan national security forces to be able to secure and defend our country."

A statement from India's Defense Ministry prior to the meeting said bilateral cooperation and efforts to train Afghan security forces were likely to be discussed.

Wardak and India's Defense Minister A.K. Antony will also review each other's concerns about regional security and terrorism threats emanating from Pakistan.

India and the Afghan government both distrust Pakistan. New Delhi accuses Islamabad of harboring and funding terrorists who have carried out attacks in India.

Over the past decade, India has emerged as one of Afghanistan's major sources of development funds and assistance in rebuilding the country.

India has spent $1.5 billion in Afghanistan to help build highways, hospitals, schools and the electricity grid. It has also helped the Afghan government rebuild its police forces, judiciary and diplomatic services.

Earlier this month, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a visit to Kabul, pledged an additional $500 million for development.