In a significant move,India has decided to give a set of three military transport choppers between March and May 2014 to the Afghan security forces,which will be the first tranche of defence equipments,The Sunday Express has learnt.
This was conveyed to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai as he met National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon on Saturday at the Oberoi hotel in New Delhi. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Karzai on Friday. Karzai and Singh had a 45-minute one-to-one meeting,with no aides or note-takers in the room,sources said.
While the issue of supplying choppers has been discussed by the top echelons of the Indian government over the last two years now,the issue has been finally settled in accordance with the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in October 2011,in which India had assured to equip the Afghan forces.
It is reliably learnt the three choppers are being configured and constructed as per Afghan request at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bangalore. While the Afghanistan government was keen on Russian-made helicopters,it seems that New Delhi managed to convince them to take indigenously-built equipment.
Afghanistan technical teams have been in touch with their Indian counterparts and the delivery schedule has been finalised for next year spread over three months.
While interacting with the media,the Afghan President Saturday said that India,while helping his country with military equipment and training,is keeping in mind the interests of the region.
India is conducting itself very wisely,India is concerned about the impact such a relationship with Afghanistan on the region,and while India is weighing that,it is also not shying away from providing assistance to Afghanistan. And in terms of Indias support to Afghanistan in military equipment and training the facts are much better than what appears in the press, Karzai said,adding on a lighter note,that if he reveals the military help it will not remain a secret.
The Afghan President,on a four-day visit here,said he was satisfied with the discussions on training as well as supply of military equipment from India to his country to strengthen the security forces of Afghanistan. In February this year,he had submitted a wishlist of defence equipments to the Indian government.
Talking about the Afghan-US Bilateral Security Agreement,Karzai said he had a detailed discussions with Singh about Afghanistans position on the issue and the Indian Prime Minister understood it.