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India understands Afghanistan better: Nirupama Rao

India understands Afghanistan better: Nirupama Rao

Asks int'l community not to go for quick solutions to extremist problems.

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New York: Warning that the Taliban is part of the "very negative presence" in Afghanistan, India has asked the international community not to find quick solutions to the extremist problem and be prepared for a long haul. "There are certain forces that spread terror. The Taliban is part of the very negative presence," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who is in the United States on a 6-day visit, said in New York.

Emphasising that India understood the Afghan society due to its centuries-old civilisational ties, Rao said the international community should prepare for the "long haul and not try to find quick solutions to the problem."

Rao, who had extensive discussions with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials of the Obama Administration on Afghanistan, also spoke against a distinction being made between a "good Taliban and bad Taliban".

Her comments came against the backdrop of the US and the Hamid Karzai government in Afghanistan planning to engage with moderate elements of the Taliban to induct them into country's polity.

"India and the international community have to stay involved in Afghanistan in order to deal with this problem that has been created by these extremist groups in this country.

"It is very important to deal with these problems in a way that Afghanistan becomes a stable and prosperous democracy. It this that is the core of what we are saying and what we convey to our friends like the United States," Rao said.

Washington acknowledges India's influence in Afghanistan and appreciates the large-scale developmental work being carried out in that country.

"The United States fully recognises that India has legitimate interests in Afghanistan. It appreciates the development work we do there... It appreciates that we are force of stability and moderation in our region. We are not scaling down in Afghanistan," she said.

India has made it clear that it will not be scaling down its operations in Afghanistan notwithstanding a spate of recent attacks targeting its citizens, including the one on two guesthouses in central Kabul in which seven Indians were killed.

During the talks with her counterpart Bill Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Rao stressed that Afghanistan presented the foremost security-related challenge in the region.

She also reiterated India's long held position that it was important for the international community to stay the present course in Afghanistan for as long as it is necessary.

"The US interlocutors conveyed their appreciation of the important developmental work being done by India in Afghanistan," a statement from the Indian Embassy said.

Rao said relations between India and the US should not be characterised solely on the basis of security needs in India's neighbourhood.

"I see today a time when this relationship between India and the United States is flowering. A balanced relationship, a relationship between equals, a relationship between friends and a relationship between partners," she said.

"This is a two way super high way between our two countries," the Foreign Secretary said.

She said the Indo-US dialogue has expanded to cover almost every area of human endeavour and pointing out common areas of interest such as energy, environment, agriculture and information technology and high technology.

"I don t just refer to security cooperation. I refer to areas of development which concern the common man woman and child in India."

On the Reprocessing Agreement to facilitate the operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, Rao said: "Everything is proceeding according to time line."

In New York, the Foreign Secretary also addressed the Council on Foreign Relations, a prominent think tank, in a closed door session.


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