Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said it was unclear whether the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan slated to begin 2014 would be a total pullout or if some of the forces will continue to remain there.
Describing the situation in Afghanistan ‘a very serious issue’, Manmohan Singh told reporters, while returning to New Delhi from Moscow, that India had continued their dialogue on Afghanistan during the summit meet between him and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
‘The US has announced that their forces will quit Afghanistan after 2014, but whether they will pull out their entire team or leave behind some people is not clear so far,’ he said.
‘As far as Russia and India are concerned, even after the American and other International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) pull out of Afghanistan, we have to recognise that Afghanistan happens to belong to a region where we all reside. Therefore, whatever happens in Afghanistan is of deep interest to Russia… is of deep interest to India and deep interest to all the neighbours of Afghanistan,’ he added.
Manmohan Singh said India had been engaging Russia in ‘a continuous dialogue’ on Afghanistan and that he did it once again during his summit meetings with the Russian leadership.
‘I am very confident that both our countries recognise that it is a very serious issue and we should put all our wisdom, knowledge and experience into play to find a joint cooperative path to tackle this difficult problem,’ he added.
In a joint statement released in Moscow after their summit meeting, India and Russia had said that they believe the international military presence in Afghanistan should be ‘linked to the security situation on the ground’.
They also supported the transfer of responsibility for the situation to the National Security Forces of Afghanistan and urged the global powers involved in the peace and stability process there to ‘intensify’ efforts to build up the home troops’ capacity.
The two sides also reiterated their support to efforts taken by the Afghanistan government to establish a peaceful dialogue with the armed opposition such as the Taliban, provided the process goes on under the Afghan leadership and fighters meet the red lines enunciated by international community, recognise the Afghan constitution, renounce violence, and break up with Al-Qeada and other terror outfits.