After landing in the capital around 11.45 am on Monday, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai went straight to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence. Known to be long-time associates, Karzai spent nearly 20 minutes with Singh and his family. The Afghan President was also seated next to Dr Singh at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oath-taking ceremony later in the evening.
Karzai, who studied in Himachal Pradesh, last came to India in March for the delivery of his daughter at a Gurgaon hospital. He held the last official bilateral talks with Dr Singh in December. Arriving with a small delegation, Karzai who is preparing to fight presidential elections next month, checked in at Oberoi hotel on Dr Zakir Hussain Marg in New Delhi district.
The Oberoi was swarming with security personnel since early morning. The hotel staff said since Karzai always stayed there when in Delhi, they were well aware of his food and stay preferences.
The arrangements, including the hotel bookings, culinary preferences and transport for the delegation, were monitored by Ruchira Kamboj, the in-charge of protocols for the swearing-in ceremony.
“A floor each has been booked for the Afghan and Mauritius delegation keeping in ind their security detail. Luxury suites has been booked for both the heads of state. Other guests are staying on different floors. There are no restrictions in visiting the coffee shop or restaurant,” a staff at the hotel said.
Sources at the Afghan embassy confirmed that Karzai will be the first to hold formal talks with Prime Minister Modi, scheduled for 9.30 am on Tuesday at the Hyderabad House. The delegation spent the afternoon discussing the agenda for the meeting.
Karzai had spoken to Modi before he was officially sworn in, after the attack on the Indian Consulate in Kabul. Sources said Karzai was also likely to meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday.