REPORTING FROM NEW DELHI -- Pakistan may not have had an envoy in the room when Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Tuesday in New Delhi. But the country’s presence loomed large.
As the two men sat down to talk, most of the issues they discussed, from terrorism and nation building to trade and regional stability, had a major Pakistan component.
“We will do all within our means to help Afghanistan,” Singh said, standing beside Karzai. “Terrorism is the biggest threat.”
Afghanistan is reeling from the assassination of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, a key figure in its nascent reconciliation and peace process killed last month in his home by a suicide bomber. Afghan security officials say the attack was planned on Pakistani soil.
India is increasingly worried that militancy will wash up on its shores from Pakistan as a 2014 deadline approaches for NATO troops to hand over security to Afghans. Fresh in its mind is the 2008 attack on Mumbai planned by militants in Pakistan that killed 166 people.
Afghanistan and India announced a framework on security, trade, education and social ties; preliminary commercial deals on mineral exploration, oil and gas; and enhanced aid.
On other fronts, India agreed to help train Afghan police. And the two leaders discussed ways to improve regional economic cooperation.
This is Karzai’s second visit to India in seven months and follows a trip by Singh to Afghanistan in May.
-- Mark Magnier
Photo: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, right, and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai shake hands after signing an agreement in New Delhi on Tuesday. Credit: Gurinder Osan / Associated Press