India advises US against exit from Afghanistan

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is believed to have told Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that an early exit by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) would leave the conflict-ravaged country at the mercy of the Taliban.

Holbrooke, who is currently on a visit to New Delhi, met Krishna and briefed him on his meetings with leaders and officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan during his tours to Islamabad and Kabul.

The external affairs minister is expected to represent India at an international conference on Afghanistan in London on January 28 next. Holbrooke’s visit to India appears to be an attempt by the US to have an idea about India’s opinion on President Obama’s new Af-Pak policy ahead of the meet. “I have come from Afghanistan and Pakistan and I was reporting on my trip and soliciting views and opinions of India,” Holbrooke told journalists after his meeting with Krishna.

Holbrooke’s was the first visit to India by a senior official of the Obama Administration after the US president announced his deployment of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan and a tentative plan to start pullout by July 2011.

Krishna is understood to have told the US special envoy that New Delhi noted that Obama’s new Af-Pak strategy sought to eliminate the sources of terrorism in Afghanistan and also focussed on the sources of terrorism that operated out of Pakistani territory contiguous to Afghanistan.

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