Continuing with close bilateral consultation, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani will visit India on October 24. The official confirmation about the visit came even as the Ministry of External Affairs reiterated India’s commitment to ‘rule-based international order’, setting the stage for the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the capital on the same day.
The visit by President Ghani comes within days of a visit to Kabul by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Thursday’s Taliban attack on the Afghan National Army base in Kandahar province that killed at least fifty-eight security personnel. When asked about the details of the Afghan leader’s agenda, an MEA official source said that the visit was being “worked upon” and a statement on the agenda would be made soon.
Mr. Ghani’s visit, which is likely to last for half-a-day, is significant as it comes two-months after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his government’s new Afghanistan policy for which he has urged India to do more.
The visits of Mr. Ghani and Mr. Tillerson to Delhi indicate that they will provide all three — the U.S., Afghanistan and India — the opportunity to hold talks on crucial regional and security-related issues.
Indicating at India’s stance to Mr. Tillerson’s visit, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We appreciate his positive evaluation of the relationship and share his optimism about its future directions. We look forward to welcoming him in India next week for detailed discussions on further strengthening of our partnership.”
The Ministry’s statement was a response to Mr. Tillerson’s October 18 comments at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Washington DC, where he highlighted his two decades-long personal ties with India and said,
Centre of gravity
“The world’s centre of gravity is shifting to the heart of the Indo-Pacific. The U.S. and India — with our shared goals of peace, security, freedom of navigation, and a free and open architecture — must serve as the eastern and western beacons of the Indo-Pacific.”
Mr. Tillerson had also pointed out that China’s rise as an international power had been “less peaceful.” The Asia-Pacific component of the visit will unfold soon after the latest congress of the Communist Party of China which led to the consolidation of power of President Xi Jinping and his re-election for one more term.