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Updated: December 2, 2009 00:20 IST

Manmohan, Obama discuss Afghanistan

Special Correspondent
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This file photo shows U.S. President Barack Obama greeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington. He updated the PM on U.S.' Afghan strategy and climate change measures on Tuesday.
PTI This file photo shows U.S. President Barack Obama greeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington. He updated the PM on U.S.' Afghan strategy and climate change measures on Tuesday.

United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek support for Washington's revised Afghanistan policy, being finalised after months of intense deliberations. The phone call was among the several placed by Mr. Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to their counterparts around the world.During their “brief conversation,”

Dr. Singh and Mr. Obama dwelt on the need to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the means to achieve them. Washington is proposing an increase in both the civilian and military components in Afghanistan and India is seen as a crucial partner in construction and rehabilitation in that country. There are over 3,000 Indians in Afghanistan, undertaking construction work and providing security to the Indian missions as well as workers in some places.

The other subject the two leaders discussed was the coming Copenhagen summit on climate change, sources in the government said. India's position on both the issues was spelt out in recent days by the Prime Minister himself and his senior aides.There are about 71,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, along with about 36,000 from the NATO and other allies, some in supporting role. Mr. Obama has also been advocating an increase in the civilian component to undertake institution-building and reconstruction.

Troop withdrawal

Only last week, Dr. Singh disfavoured troop withdrawal and stressed the importance of continued engagement in Afghanistan by major regional and international actors. “I sincerely hope that the world community will have the wisdom to stay engaged in that process and premature talk of exit would only embolden the terrorist elements, who are out to destabilise not only our part of the world but civilised world everywhere,” he said in Washington.On climate change, Dr. Singh told Mr. Obama that India was willing to be part of a solution and it expected a successful outcome in Copenhagen.

While hoping for a helpful international regime, Dr. Singh said India, at this stage, was not in favour of binding emission cut targets and had started taking unilateral measures without waiting for international consensus.Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Climate Change Shyam Saran had said, “Developed countries are making their actions conditional on what others are doing. We have a national action plan whose implementation is not conditional on anyone giving us a penny, including technological aspects.”

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