NEW DELHI – The withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and the country's budding strategic relationship with India topped the agenda for talks Tuesday between the Afghan foreign minister and senior government officials in New Delhi.
Foreign ministers Zalmai Rassoul of Afghanistan and S.M. Krishna of India met in the first session of meetings set up under an October strategic agreement between the two countries — Afghanistan's first with any country.
Rassoul told reporters in New Delhi that his nation would take responsibility for its own security after the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops rom the country, and that it would discuss the training and equipping of its forces with India.
Krishna said Afghanistan's security was of "extreme importance" to India because the two nations security was intertwined. India has been involved in training Afghan troops since the pact.
The October pact outlined areas of common concern including trade, economic expansion, education, security and politics. Its timing sparked speculation of a shift in regional alignments after Afghan President Hamid Karzai chastised Pakistan for failing to act against Taliban-led insurgents based in Pakistan.
Afghan officials argue that the militant groups, which also seek to overthrow the Afghan government, undermine stability in Afghanistan and the whole region.
India has also accused Pakistan of hosting militants who have staged attacks on its soil — recriminations that have strained ties between the two archrivals.
The Afghan minister also is slated to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance and security officials.
India is increasing its participation in Afghanistan development. Indian companies are carrying out several projects in the country and Krishna has said in the past that his nation was committed to staying in the country and helping Afghans as long as the "legitimately elected" government of Afghanistan wants.