India and China will hold their first dialogue on Afghanistan on April 18 as the two regional players are vying to get a foothold in the country ahead of the withdrawal of the US-led coalition troops which begins next year.
An Indian delegation comprising senior officials will be travelling to Beijing next week,sources said. About a month ago,National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon had travelled to Moscow for the first trilateral dialogue between India,Russia and China on Afghanistan in an effort to build on common security concerns.
The bilateral dialogue between India and China emanated out of a Chinese proposal for a dialogue on South Asia,much on the lines of what the two had initiated on other regions. However,India was not too interested on starting conversation about its own neighbourhood with China,a key security factor in many South Asian countries,apart from the fact that New Delhi felt there was not much in common to discuss in the region. Delhi was also apprehensive about,say,the Tibetan question coming up. India therefore made a counter proposal to hold talks on Afghanistan.