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India may invite Pakistan for regional meet on Afghanistan

Delhi,Diplomacy,Indo-Pak/Pakistan, Wed, 02 May 2012 IANS

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) In a crucial step, India is likely to invite Pakistan for a regional conference of investors on Afghanistan here next month that is aimed at creating regional support for economic stability of the violence-torn country.


The conference will take place days ahead of a much bigger Tokyo conference on Afghanistan planned for July.


External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna had announced the regional conference Tuesday after talks with his Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rassoul here.


Official sources Wednesday said the proposal is at an incipient stage and no formal invitations have been sent so far. The sources, however, indicated that the region, among others, includes China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE and Russia.


If Pakistan is invited for a regional conference on Afghanistan in India, it will be the first time officials of India and Pakistan will be sitting in New Delhi to discuss the future of the Taliban-infested country.


The initiative on a regional investors' conference by India is driven by India's strategy to rope in regional players for reconstruction and economic stability of Afghanistan, which has acquired an added importance in view of the planned withdrawal of international troops in 2014.


Given the backdrop of rivalry between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan, it will be surprising if Islamabad is invited for the regional investors' meet in New Delhi. In the past, India has blamed elements of Taliban and the Haqqani network, an ISI-aided outfit, for attacks on its mission in Kabul and on its personnel.


On the bilateral track, there has been no discussions on Afghanistan between India and Pakistan, which many see as an arena of intense rivalry between the two subcontinental neighbours.


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