Stability in Afghanistan, Iran essential: Khurshid

Srinagar, June 29 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Saturday peace and stability in Afghanistan and Iran are essential for the security of India as the two countries provide access to the central Asian region that abounds in hydrocarbon wealth.

Khurshid said this while delivering the inaugural address at a three-day international conference on Central Asia at Kashmir University here.

The theme of the conference is “Cooperative development, peace and security in Central Asia: challenges and prospects”.

“We have been watching with care the deployments in Doha (Qatar) about the possibility of a conversation and dialogue between the Taliban and Afghanistan”, Khurshid said.

The external affairs minister said that India had made it clear to the US and the European countries that the peace talks in Afghanistan must be led by the Afghan government and controlled by it. He said this was the desire of the Afghan government as well.

“It was not possible for anybody from outside to conjure a successful peace architecture for Afghanistan or any other part of the world. Peace must come from within,” Khurshid said.

“Despite repeated invitations, India believes it must restrain itself to a point which is consistent with our philosophy that the Afghan people must chose their own destiny,” the minister said.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also addressed the international conference.

“Srinagar International Airport exists only on paper as no international flight operates from here,” Omar regretted. He said Srinagar airport could only truly become an international airport if Pakistan allowed use of its airspace.

“A flight from Srinagar to a couple of central Asian capitals would be shorter than a flight from Srinagar to other cities, but unfortunately because of the mindset of our neighbours, they do not allow direct flights form Srinagar,” he said.

Abdullah said Kashmir had a closer historical connection with many central Asian countries and hoped the new political dispensation in Pakistan would make an air connectivity between Kashmir and the central Asian countries possible.

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