Hamid Karzai, Suu Kyi come calling

Myanmars democracy icon will deliver Nehru lecture

India will host two key leaders from its eastern and western neighbourhood over the next one week as part of its ongoing initiatives to consolidate its position in Afghanistan and Myanmar, both strategically vital to New Delhi’s future.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai arrived in Mumbai on Friday afternoon on a four-day visit in which he is expected to discuss with the Indian leadership the regional security situation and will also engage with business leaders to seek investments for his country.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the iconic champion of democracy from Myanmar will arrive on November 13 for a five-day tour.

During his four-day stay in the country, Karzai will explore ways to enhance New Delhi’s engagement in rebuilding efforts in the war-torn nation.

With a committed $2.3 billion aid programme, India as one of the largest donors to Afghanistan is investing in its economy, humanitarian aid, education, development, construction and electrical projects.

Karzai’s talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 12 in Delhi would include a broad spectrum of issues like safety of Indian nationals and its assets, besides greater role for India in training Afghan security forces.  The Afghan President is also expected to apprise India of the status of peace process and the efforts made by his government to prepare for the post-2014 scenario when Western combat forces are slated to commence pulling out troops from Afghanistan.

Prior to Karzai’s visit, the Union government had on Thursday cleared another tranche of development aid to the tune of Rs 540 crore for Afghanistan.

The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by the prime minister, approved the third phase of the Small Development Projects (SDP) to be implemented across all the 34 provinces of Afghanistan.

President Karzai will deliver the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Memorial lecture on November 12.

Suu Kyi is arriving on the invitation of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who is also the chairman of Nehru Memorial Trust. The Nobel laureate would be delivering the Nehru Memorial Lecture on November 14.

This would be Suu Kyi’s first trip to India in 40 years, where her mother served as an ambassador in the 1960’s.

Even though the officials are not disclosing her itinerary, it is likely Suu Kyi would call on other Indian leaders. But due to sensitivities involved in India-Myanmar relations, she is unlikely to be involved in bilateral talks.

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