NEW DELHI — Afghan President Hamid Karzai will seek greater Indian military aid during a visit this week to New Delhi, officials of both countries said Monday.
India has provided billions of dollars of aid to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, and is keen to ensure that no radical Islamist regime takes power in Kabul after international troops pull out in 2014.
Afghanistan’s request “will include all kinds of assistance from India in order to strengthen our military and security institutions,” Karzai’s presidential spokesman, Aimal Faizi, told reporters in Kabul.
Karzai, set to start his two-day trip to New Delhi late Monday, will hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the future of the war-torn country and also meet Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.
Discussions will cover a potential arms deal between the two countries, an Indian foreign ministry official told AFP in New Delhi, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“India is ready to meet any request that would strengthen Afghan security institutions. He (Karzai) is visiting India to discuss a potential arms deal,” the foreign ministry official said.
But any Indian activity in Afghanistan triggers sensitivities in neighboring rival Pakistan, which fears losing influence in Afghanistan.
India has been training a limited number of Afghan military officers for years at its military institutions but has provided little weapons assistance except for some vehicles.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s ambassador to India said the country needs India’s help with equipment and weapons and was hoping to boost defense ties.
In 2011, India and Afghanistan began a “strategic partnership” aimed at deepening security and economic links.