India and Afghanistan will work towards increasing the training and capacity building of Afghan security forces in the coming months, The Indian Express reported.
As Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul meets External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on May 1 in New Delhi, this will be one of the key issues they will discuss.
The ministers will launch a partnership council on May 1 to implement the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) signed between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in October last year. The formation of working groups on various themes will also be set in motion.
Right now, according to sources, there are about 150 slots for training the Afghan security personnel in various institutions, and the two sides will discuss on how to enhance that strength.
This becomes crucial as the number of US-led coalition forces is due to fall to around 68,000 by the end of this year, from around 100,000 now, before all active combat troops leave by the end of 2014.
Sources said the partnership council's meeting would operationalise the SPA. This was the first such agreement signed by Afghanistan with any other country.
In fact, Afghanistan and the US concluded negotiations of their agreement this week.
In the political and security cooperation section of the agreement, India has agreed to "assist, as mutually determined, in the training, equipping and capacity building programmes for Afghan National Security Forces".
The SPA also says security cooperation between India and Afghanistan is intended to help enhance their respective and mutual efforts in the fight against international terrorism, organised crime, illegal trafficking in narcotics and money laundering.
India signed the SPA with Afghanistan on October 4, 2011, in New Delhi, when Karzai visited India, and the agreement aims to institutionalise relations between the two countries in many spheres, including political and security cooperation, trade and economic cooperation, capacity development and education, social, cultural, civil society and people-to-people relations.
It is believed that India is the fifth or sixth largest donor in terms of the pledged amount of bilateral assistance of $2 billion.
Edited by: S. Isayev