'No problem if Kabul seeks direct military help from India'

Afghanistan

The US has said it will have no problem if Afghanistan seeks any direct military assistance from India for its armed forces in dealing with security issues born out of insurgent activities in the country.

"We have had discussions with the Indians about this issue and about the Afghans, and I don't see any particular problems with the overall approach here at all," a senior Defence Department official said yesterday.

Reportedly the official requesting anonymity said that Afghan military commanders and intelligence officials have begun urging India to provide direct military assistance to the country's fledgling armed forces.

The report claimed that key military equipment including medium trucks with capacity of carrying 2.5-7 tonne cargos, bridge-laying equipment and engineering facilities, light mountain artillery along with ordnance were sought by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

India was also requested to help Afghanistan build close air-support capabilities for its troops in preparation of drastic scaling-down of western forces in 2014, it said.

The official said the US and Afghanistan have jointly developed a "fairly aggressive" plan that includes broad range of support from the international community for developing capabilities that Afghanistan needs to address security issues born out of insurgent activities.

"We think it's important to continue working on the lines of that agreed plan," the official said, praising role played by India in Afghanistan.

"India has been very supportive of Afghanistan in a wide range of areas. We think that's been very positive," the official said after the Pentagon submitted to the Congress a bi-yearly report on the progress being made in Afghanistan.

Although India has been involved in major infrastructure projects in Afghanistan besides agreements on cooperation in fields like governance, economics and education, New Delhi may choose to broaden its reach into the investment as well as the development sector by bidding on future tenders for mineral extraction there, the paper commented.

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