Welcome to your second home, Karzai tells PM

Welcome to your second home, Karzai tells PM

Welcome to your second home, Karzai tells PM

Shortly after he landed in the Afghan capital amid tight security cover, Singh was warmly received by Afghan President Hamid Karzai who told the Prime Minister "Welcome to your second home" at a ceremonial reception by the Afghan Police, the Army and the Air Force in the grand Presidential Palace 'The Arg'.

Singh, who last visited Afghanistan in 2005, is due to hold talks with Karzai on terrorism, Indian aid to the war-ravaged country and fallout of the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in the region.

He was earlier received at Kabul airport by Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasoul, Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and other senior officials.

"This is a tremendous honour for the Afghan people to welcome His Excellency Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, to second home Afghanistan," said Karzai, welcoming Singh.

The Prime Minister, in turn, described India and Afghanistan as "partners in progress".
"It is always a great honour and privilege to visit you. That you have invited me to visit is an honour to entire people of India.

"India and Afghanistan are partners in progress and we will stand by you through thick and thin, and we reaffirm our solidarity with the people and government of Afghanistan," he told the Afghan president at the reception at the palace.

The presidential palace houses the president's office, his residence, and the office of the Afghan National Security Adviser.

The presidential complex also houses the home of Afghanistan's last King Zahir Shah, where Prime Minister Singh is staying.

Singh is the first foreign head of government for whom the late king Zahir Shah's home has been thrown open.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Prime Minister's special envoy to Afghanistan Satinder Lambah and other senior officials are accompanying Singh.

Ahead of his visit, the Prime Minister had emphasised that his discussions with President Karzai will cover regional developments and the fight against terrorism.

The visit will also deliver "tangible" results with India to discuss ways to advance its developmental partnership with Afghanistan to a new level in the coming years.

There are indications that India will step-up its assistance for various developmental projects which already cover almost two-third of the provinces in Afghanistan.

Indian government sources said that during the meeting with the Afghan leadership, India would also like to know the views of the government there on the situation after the killing of  bin Laden during a covert US operation on May One.

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