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India says no to Afghan arms plea

July 05
03:33 2013

salmanSINGAPORE: India has turned down Afghanistan’s request for supply of lethal weapons, saying it was not “either in a position or willing” to contribute lethal weapons right now, days after Afghan President Hamid Karzai raised the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“We are going to help with non-lethal equipment but I don’t think we are either in the position to or willing to contribute lethal weapons right now,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said here.

Noting that India already supplies important elements of supporting equipment, transportation – which includes helicopters, the minister said,”…we think it is not advisable to go beyond that. It is a fragile area, there are stakeholders, there are other people. We don’t want to become part of the problem.”

During his recent visit to India, Karzai had handed a “wish list” to Indian leadership seeking greater military and civilian support in the wake of proposed withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan in 2014.

Khurshid, in an interview to Straits Times, said there are lots of people who have perceptions about the future of Afghanistan and “if we can help Afghanistan without creating further problems for them, I think that would be a preferred way to do it.”

He said, “We are in touch with them constantly, and we are committed and have said very categorically… We are not looking at exit routes for ourselves which means we are there to stay for a long term. We are very comforted by the fact that Afghans have confidence in us. We won’t let them down.”
Asked about his concerns in Afghanistan post-2014, Khurshid said, “I think it is too early for the Americans to give us the full picture. Afghans themselves are unable to give a full picture. I have been to the Heart of Asia (ministerial) conference and apart from the fact that everybody was clearly remaining committed to the future of Afghanistan, as we do, there are no clear roadmaps about what can happen during 2014.”

He said, “Americans are still talking about – we still don’t know whether it will succeed or not succeed – about talks with Taliban. We have, as have other countries, flagged over and over again the red lines that were drawn for the future of Afghanistan and yet we don’t want to stand in the way of inclusive dialogue which President Karzai himself took an initiative on.

“But because he and the Americans and the Qataris are not being able to get on to the same page, there isn’t very much that we can do at this stage, except wait for the dust to settle, for things to become clear and then see whether our formulation that whatever happens the peace talks must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled can be a viable step for future directions.” –PTI



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