India a Tremendous Friend: Karzai - The New Indian Express

India a Tremendous Friend: Karzai

Published: 07th March 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 07th March 2014 01:53 AM

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday described India as a “tremendous friend” of his country and said New Delhi will continue to play a significant role in his country even after the bulk of the US forces withdraw from the country in the coming months.

“India has given Afghanistan $12 billion in the last 12 years. Cooperation with India will be strong as Afghans appreciate India’s help,” Karzai told the media here on Thursday.

The Afghanistan President, who is on his first official visit to Sri Lanka, had fruitful talks with Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and opened Afghanistan’s embassy here.

Karzai refuted the allegation that India has been given undue importance in Afghanistan, by being allowed to operate more than 12 consulates in the country.

“This is misinformation. India has only four consulates apart from the mission in Kabul. The consulates are at Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad and Herat. The ones at Kandahar and Jalalabad are more than 60 years old and the ones at Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif are 23 years old.” he said.

On relations with Pakistan, Karzai said that for peace in Afghanistan and for the rest of the region, Pakistan’s cooperation is essential. He went on to welcome the bid for talks between the Pakistan Government and the Taliban.

Asked whether he wished he could  emulate Lanka and finish off the Taliban militarily, Karzai shot back: “I have never spoken of a military option. I want peace through talks.”

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