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India not to scale down presence in Afghanistan.

THE GOVERNMENT on Saturday sought to dispel the speculation that it is planning to scale down India's presence in Afghanistan.

It said the decision to temporarily suspend the medical mission in Kabul should not be construed as a shift in its Afghan policy.

The government, in fact, announced that it would enhance security for its staff in the Kabul embassy, apprehending more terror attacks.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said the decision to suspend the Kabul medical mission was temporary and would not affect other such missions.

" The Indian medical missions ( IMMs) in Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar- e- Sharif were functioning normally. In the aftermath of the terrorist attack targeting the IMM in Kabul, in which one doctor was killed and others injured, the work of the IMM has been temporarily suspended," he said.

The decision to suspend the Kabul medical mission following the February 26 attack had fuelled the speculation that India might want to scale down its projects and presence in the wartorn nation.

National security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, who made a two- day trip to Kabul to monitor the security situation, delivered a categorical message at the end of his visit.

" India will not scale down operations. The government will strengthen the overall security infrastructure for Indian projects and missions," he said in Kabul.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent a message of assurance to Afghan President Hamid Karzai via Menon, underlining India's continued support and help for Afghanistan's reconstruction and stability.

External affairs minister S. M. Krishna, too, asserted in Bangalore on Saturday that India was not planning to prune its operations in Afghanistan.

He denied that some Indian embassy staff in Kabul had expressed a desire to return home fearing more terror strikes. However, he clarified that if someone wanted to come back because of " family compulsions", the government would consider it.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Mar 7, 2010
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