The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US appeal for Afghan help

New Delhi, Nov. 17: Washington has renewed a request for Indian military involvement in Afghanistan in aid of US and Nato forces.

It has also appealed to India to increase its involvement in development projects in Afghanistan.

In meetings the US under-secretary for defence Eric Edelman had in New Delhi on Thursday, when the Senate approved the nuclear deal, Washington’s defence delegation addressed India’s concerns in Afghanistan in detail.

It sought greater assistance — not necessarily by putting “boots on the ground” but also by asking the Indian military to help train the Afghan National Army and the police and by getting Indian companies engaged in infrastructure.

A US official said Edelman told Indian officials there was no reason to believe the US and Nato were not as committed in Afghanistan as they were before the Congressional elections (which George W. Bush’s Republicans lost).

“There is broad bipartisan support,” the official said. The team pointed out that there were about 54,000 US and Nato troops in Afghanistan. The operations were “very important and largely successful” even if a resurgent Taliban had wreaked more violence this year since 2001.

Edelman told Indian officials that the US-led forces were now sweeping into the southern and eastern provinces of Afghanistan. This was meant to address specific Indian concerns on support to the Taliban from Pakistan.

The army chief, General Joginder Jaswant Singh, who has just returned from the US, was made similar requests for cooperation.

A senior Indian defence ministry official said there was no political support in the country for deploying Indian troops on overseas missions outside the UN banner. This was the concern the US team addressed, emphasising that there was a level of global consensus on Afghanistan that wasn’t present on Iraq.

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