Sushma to visit Kabul tomorrow

Sushma to visit Kabul tomorrow

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Kabul on Wednesday and meet the rival presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. 

Swaraj, who earlier visited Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar, said that she would travel to Afghanistan to continue the government’s special emphasis on India’s relations with its neighbours.

Outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai attended the swearing-in ceremony of the NDA government on May 26 at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also had a bilateral meeting with Modi before returning to Kabul on May 27.

Swaraj’s visit to Kabul, however, will mark the first formal diplomatic engagement between the two countries after the change of government in New Delhi. The minister told journalists that she would reaffirm India’s commitment to reconstruction of Afghanistan during her visit, notwithstanding the outcome of the current efforts to end the impasse over the disputed presidential elections in the war-torn country.

India already pledged over $2 billion for development projects in Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan’s presidential election last April resulted in a political stalemate as one of the candidates Abdullah Abdullah challenged the victory of Ashraf Ghani in the initial count, alleging widespread fraud in the process.  Efforts to form a national unity government is yet to make any headway, as the two candidates did not agree on a proposed power-sharing deal with Ghani as President and Abdulla as Chief Executive. 

Swaraj is expected to convey to them New Delhi’s message that rival politicians should try to resolve the dispute through negotiations at the earliest to ensure political stability, particularly when Nato forces are about withdraw from combat role in the war against Taliban.

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