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Updated: October 29, 2009 00:40 IST

Antony: India will not send troops to Afghanistan

Special Correspondent
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Defence Minister A.K. Antony
PTI Defence Minister A.K. Antony

India on Wednesday ruled out any possibility of sending troops to fight along with the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, asserting that it was there for extending humanitarian assistance for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the country.

“I am categorically saying that there is no question of Indian military involvement in Afghanistan…not now, not in the future…” Defence Minister A.K. Antony said at a news conference after inaugurating a three-day Coast Guard Commanders conference here.

The Minister was responding to a question whether India envisaged any role since the recent Yudh Abhyas (war exercise) between Indian and the U.S armies at Babina using tanks and para-troopers. It was aimed at counter-terrorism in a situation like Afghanistan.

To a question whether the U. S. Army would like Indian troops helping it in Afghanistan, a U.S Commander said the American troops would be comfortable to operate jointly with India anywhere, anytime.

Mr. Antony also said that the Centre was seriously concerned over the deteriorating situation in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and underscored that the defence forces were ever alert to meet any challenge to the security of the country.

As to the internal threats from naxalites and Maoists, the Minister said the government was aware of the serious nature of threat and felt the primary task to maintain law and order rested with the State governments.

He said the Centre would extend all help required by the governments to tackle the problem but at the same time, it expected the States also to pay more attention to the issues of development and social justice in tribal areas.

Asked whether the Centre would hold talks with the naxalites, he said the government wanted them to abjure violence. The government was against using armed forces for internal security unless as a last resort.

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