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Afghan President Karzai visits India

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit India, his second this year, comes at a time when his government has raised serious questions about neighbor Pakistan.

For India, whose relations with Pakistan also remain tense since the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, Karzai's trip beginning Tuesday will provide "an opportunity for both countries to consolidate their strategic partnership and discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest," the Indian External Affairs Ministry said on its Web site.

India's growing presence in Afghanistan is a source of concern for Pakistan.

Since the recent high-profile attacks in Kabul, Karzai has stepped up his criticism of Pakistan.

In an address Monday, Karzai said Afghanistan and Pakistan are "inseparable brothers," but also said despite all destruction and calamities faced by both countries "a double-standard game and (the use of) terrorism" as a tool continued, the BBC reported.

The recent attacks in Kabul included the Sept. 20 assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former president who had been heading the High Peace Council to negotiate with the Taliban.

Since then, Karzai has said peace talks with the Taliban alone would not be effective as Pakistani authorities exert control over the insurgents, The Washington Post reported. Pakistan has denied any involvement with the Taliban.

"Seeking one-sided peace will not bring peace," Karzai said prior to his India trip.

Afghan officials have said Rabbani's assassination was planned in the Pakistani city of Quetta with the involvement of Pakistan's intelligence agency. Islamabad has strongly denied the accusation.

Karzai comes to India after the Indian prime minister's landmark visit to Kabul in May. During that trip, Singh said India-Afghan cooperation "has expanded significantly," including India's development assistance commitment of about $ 1.5 billion.

"We are people of the same region. We cannot remain unaffected by developments in Afghanistan," Singh had said.

There had been speculation that India wants to do more in the security sector and to train Afghan forces so they can take over when international troops leave the country.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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