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New Delhi,Kabul to start work on Partnership Council in May

Sources said Afghanistan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul is expected to visit India between May 2 and 5.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: April 20, 2012 12:37:44 am

Six months after Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai signed the Strategic Partnership agreement with India — the first ever with any country — New Delhi and Kabul are working towards “activating” Partnership Council,the topmost body tasked to implement the pact,early next month.

Sources said Afghanistan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul is expected to visit India between May 2 and 5.

During Rassoul’s visit,sources said,the two sides will formally launch the Partnership Council,which will pave the way for work to begin on the joint working groups on several themes.

The Strategic Partnership Agreement,which was signed between PM Manmohan Singh and Karzai,was the main highlight of the Afghan President’s visit in October last year.

The agreement had said it is not directed against any particular country or group of countries,primarily to assuage Pakistan’s concerns.

According to the implementation mechanism agreed in the pact,it would be implemented under the framework of a Partnership Council,which will be headed by the foreign ministers of both countries. The Council will convene annual meetings and this would be the inaugural meeting,co-chaired by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna from the Indian side.

The Council will consist of separate joint working groups on political and security consultations,trade and economic cooperation,capacity development and education,and social,cultural and civil society,involving high level representatives from concerned ministries and authorities. Also,sources said that the existing dialogue mechanisms between the two sides will become part of the Council. Sources said that New Delhi is contemplating increasing the training slots in various military and para-military academies for Afghan officers from their security forces. “Right now,there are 150-odd officers being trained in various courses in Indian defence academies. They will be gradually increased in an incremental manner,to a substantial number,” sources added.

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