Thu, 22 Aug 2013 10:45:00 GMT | By IANS

Afghan vice president meets Manmohan Singh

Afghanistan is estimated to harbour up to $3 trillion in mineral wealth and an Indian consortium has won rights to mine there

Afghan vice president meets Manmohan Singh (© Reuters)

New Delhi: Afghan Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili, who is here on a three-day visit, Wednesday evening called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during which they discussed security issues and trade among other bilateral issues. Khalili, a Hazara from the Behsud district in the central province of Maidan and Wardak, also called on President Pranab Mukherjee and met Vice President M. Hamid Ansari. He had met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Tuesday. Khalili is known to have influence in Bamiyan province where the Hajigak mines are located. An Indian consortium has won the mining rights in three of the four blocks at Hajigak, Afghanistan's biggest iron ore deposit.

Afghanistan is estimated to harbour up to $3 trillion in mineral wealth including gold, copper, iron ore and precious stones to oil, gas and rare earth minerals. Khalili's visit comes as the US-led international forces are to drawdown from Afghanistan in 2014. President Hamid Karzai during his visit to India in May had discussed the issue of increased military aid to Afghanistan under the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries.

Khalili's visit, his first official visit to India, was part of continuous engagement with Afghanistan, said the external affairs ministry spokesperson. He was expected to discuss the issue of enhanced military aid to his country with the Indian leadership, said sources. A team of Indian officials had visited Kabul in early July to hold talks on enhanced military cooperation between India and Afghanistan.

India has said it was ready to discuss and consider Afghanistan's request for arms supplies provided it is raised through the proper fora. India and Afghanistan have a Strategic Partnership Agreement, inked in 2011, under which they can discuss the issue of military aid. India is involved in a large number of development works in Afghanistan, which include building the 218 km Zaranj-Delaram highway, the Salma dam and the Afghan parliament building.

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