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Indian Prime Minister Vows Support For Afghanistan


Afghan President Hamid Karzai (right) and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh eat lunch at the presidential palace in Kabul.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Kabul on a two-day visit to discuss Indian aid for Afghanistan and regional security.

Giving a speech to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other high-level officials at a lunch in his honor, Singh said India vigorously backs efforts to negotiate a peace with the Taliban.

"We strongly support the Afghan people's quest for peace and reconciliation," he said. "India supports firmly the unity, integrity, and prosperity of Afghanistan."

India is one of the leading donors to Afghanistan, spending about $1.3 billion on rebuilding the country since the Taliban was ousted in 2001. Singh said today India is making a "fresh commitment" of $500 million over the next fews years.

India is also vying with arch-rival Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan. Both India and Afghanistan have repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting or sheltering militants who carried out attacks in their countries.

The current visit to Afghanistan is Singh's first in six years. Karzai has visited India 10 times since 2002.

compiled from agency reports