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Karzai Seeks India's Help in Re-Building Afghanistan - 2002-02-26


Afghanistan's interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai is in New Delhi for two days of talks about rebuilding his country's shattered infrastructure and economy. Mr. Karzai is to meet with senior Indian government and business leaders.

Hamid Karzai went directly from a brief arrival ceremony to meetings with India's Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh and India's top business leaders. Mr. Karzai meets Wednesday with India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Afghanistan's Ambassador to India, Masood Khalili says Afghans want to re-establish commercial ties with India and get help to rebuild their country.

"One of the main purposes of the trip indeed will be to talk about the reconstruction of Afghanistan in India. India can play a very significant role as far as the reconstruction of Afghanistan is concerned," Mr. Khalil said.

Mr. Karzai arrived in India accompanied by more than 30 senior Afghan officials, including 15 ministers. In addition to his meetings with top Indian government and business leaders, Mr. Karzai will also hold talks with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who arrives Wednesday in New Delhi.

This is Mr. Karzai's first trip to India in many years. More than 20 years ago he studied politics at a university in the Indian hill town of Shimla.

There are about 30,000 Afghan refugees living in India and a number of senior officials in Afghanistan's interim government have relatives in the country. India was one of the first countries to recognize Afghanistan's interim government, following the collapse of the Taleban.

Mr. Karzai arrived in India following several days of talks in Iran, where he said his government welcomed Iran's contribution to reconstructing Afghanistan, despite U.S. criticism of what Washington calls Tehran's interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs.

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