India, US differ on Afghanistan policy

Even as the US on Thursday once again threatened to leave none of its soldiers in Afghanistan if Kabul does not sign the proposed Bilateral Security Agreement with Washington expeditiously, New Delhi rejected an “exit strategy” and vowed to remain committed to the war-ravaged country.

“India is and will remain committed to Afghanistan for all times to come, even beyond 2014, which is a critical year for many....People may have many strategies but one strategy India rejects is an exit strategy for Afghanistan,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said addressing a meeting of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan-Pakistan in New Delhi.

The International Contact Group on Afghanistan and Pakistan or ICGAF, which is a bloc of 53 countries, met on Thursday, while another meeting of the senior officials of the countries involved with the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan is scheduled to take place here on Friday.  

The US and other western countries sought to use the ICGAF meeting to step up pressure on Afghan Government to sign the BSA expeditiously. “If the agreement is not signed promptly, we, unfortunately, will be in a position in which we will need to plan for the possibility of having no military presence in Afghanistan after 2014. That is not an outcome that we desire,” the US Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan-Pakistan, Laurel Miller, told journalists after the meeting.

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