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India, Afghanistan to sign mining, other business pacts during Karzai visit

Karzai expected to ink pacts involving mining leases and explore a greater role for India in training of Afghan troops during visit that begins Friday
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38 year old Prabhat Sinha, from Assam, carries a load of coal weighing 60kg's, supported by a head-strap, as he ascends the staircase of a coal mine on April 16, 2011 near the village of Khliehriat, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to sign four pacts involving mining leases and other business cooperations during a visit to India that begins in Mumbai on Friday.

The Afghan leader is also expected to discuss a possible larger role for India in the training of Afghan security forces, according to the Press Trust of India.

In general, India's role in security operations in Afghanistan has been limited, due to opposition by Pakistan. But New Delhi is keen to ensure that Afghanistan does not become a fiefdom of its oldest adversary--which it accuses of fostering terrorist groups to wage a "proxy war." And Karzai has increasingly been seen as attempting to hedge his bets when it comes to reliance on Islamabad.

Karzai, who will begin his tour from Mumbai, will interact with the business community there and seek greater investment in his country in various sectors, Zee reported. Briefing the reporters on the Presidential visit, Afghan Ambassador Shaida Mohammad Abdali said that Karzai was coming to India at "a critical time" as international combat troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, the news agency said.

Four MoUs will be signed between the two countries in areas of mines, youth affairs, small development projects and fertilizers, PTI reported Abdali as saying. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Karzai will also discuss the regional security situation and safety of Indian nationals and Indian projects on November 12 in New Delhi.

Karzai is also expected to apprise India of the status of peace process and the efforts made by his government to prepare for the post-2014 scenario when Western combat forces will withdraw from Afghanistan. For Indian side, the security of their nationals and projects will be the focus during the talks, PTI quoted unnamed sources as saying.

Indians in Afghanistan include Afghans of Indian origin as well as Indian construction and aid workers involved in rebuilding and humanitarian assistance efforts. Having committed a $2.3 billion aid program, India is one of the largest donors to Afghanistan, investing in the economy, humanitarian aid, education, development, construction and electrical projects.
 

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