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Afghan President Karzai to arrive Sunday

By Ramananda Sengupta in New Delhi
April 08, 2006 16:59 IST
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Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai arrives on a three-day state visit to India at 2 pm Sunday. Besides Delhi, he is expected to spend a day each in Hyderabad and Shimla.

While Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed will pay a courtesy call to the Afghan leader at the Taj Palace Hotel at 6 pm, the trip formally begins Monday at 9 am with a  ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt. The Afghan leader will lay a wreath at the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.

He will then return to his hotel to meet the Minister of Panchayati Raj Mani Shankar Aiyar.

This will be followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and delegation level talks, and the signing of various agreements -- mostly dealing with Indian assistance for the rehabilitation of the war-ravaged nation.

India has already pledged more than $550 million for Afghanistan's reconstruction. Other issues likely to be discussed include the security of the more than 2,000 Indian workers in Afghanistan.

Late aternoon Monday, Karzai will hold a business meeting with the various Indian chambers of commerce at his hotel, after which Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi are expected to pay courtesy calls.

He will then return to Rashtrapati Bhavan for a meeting with President A P J Abdul Kalam, and attend the banquet hosted in his honor there.

On Tuesday, he will leave for Hyderabad, where he is expected to meet Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and the leaders of some of the main IT majors based there before returning to Delhi.

While the official ministry of external communiqué is silent about his plans for Wednesday, it is believed that the president will visit Shimla, where he is expected to address the faculty and students of  Himachal Pradesh University, where he received his masters in political science in 1983. 

The university had conferred a honorary doctorate on Karzai in March 2003, when he was the president of the transitional government of Afghanistan.

He will then return to Delhi, and leave for Kabul at 9.30 am Thursday.

More Reports from Afghanistan


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Ramananda Sengupta in New Delhi