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Karzai off to Colombo for SAARC summit.

Byline: S. Mudassir Ali Shah

Karzai off to Colombo for SAARC summit

S. Mudassir Ali Shah - Aug 1, 2008 - 18:51

KABUL (PAN): At the head of a high-powered official delegation, President Hamid Karzai Friday flew to Sri Lanka to attend a two-day summit of the eight-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

President Karzai, besides addressing the summit, will also meet his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa and Bhutans Prime Minister Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuck on issues of common interest.

Expanded bilateral relation and enhanced cooperation would figure prominently at the meetings, a statement from the Presidential Palace said. At the end of the 15th South Asian summit in Colombo, the president will travel to India on a two-day state visit

Included in the Karzai-led delegation are Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta, National Security Advisor Dr Zalmay Rasul, Finance Minister Dr. Anwarul Haq Ahady, Advisor on International Affairs Taj Ayubi and presidential spokesman Hamayun Hamidzada.

In New Delhi, President Pratibha Patel will host a banquet for the visiting dignitary. During the Aug 3-4 trip, the Afghan leader will also meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a wide range of issues of bilateral interest.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and opposition leader LK Advani will call on meet Karzai. Indias role in Afghanistans reconstruction and escalating Taliban activities may figure prominently at his talks with Singh.

It will be the first visit to New Delhi by the Afghan president since the July 7 suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. Both Afghanistan and India have blamed Pakistans intelligence agency ISI for the terrorist act that killed 54 people including two Indian diplomats.

With ties between the Asian nations fast expanding, New Delhi is insisting on greater security for Indian workers - often targetted by the insurgents. The meeting will provide the two sides an opportunity to explore ways of jointly dealing with the threat from militants, allegedly backed by Pakistan.


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Publication:Pajhwok Afghan News (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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