The Afghan government on Thursday stressed that it will not allow any other country to use Afghanistan to target other countries, seeking to downplay the fracas over comments made by the newly-appointed US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel on the India-Afghan relationship.

Hagel was quoted as saying that India is using Afghanistan as a “second front” against its old rival Pakistan, but the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that any relations with the Indian government are based on goodwill and for Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

“Afghanistan is a moderate country and will not allow anyone to insecure other countries from its soil. Our relationship with India is based goodwill and for the purpose of reconstruction of the country,” Deputy Ministry Spokesman Siamak Herawi told TOLOnews.

“There are proven documents that many terrorists are being trained in Pakistan,” he added.

The Indian government already reacted to the report of Hagel’s comments made in 2011 at an Oaklahoma university but which were re-reported this week by an online news outlet.

India has defended its presence in Afghanistan and has also somewhat defended Hagel’s appointment as Secretary of Defence.

“He has made no such statement. You are talking about some lecture given in a university two years ago. So I don’t think it is correct to comment on a lecture given by a person two years ago,” said Salman Khurshid, Indian Foreign Minister, according to Reuters.

However, India’s main opposition leader Murli Manohar Joshi has spoken against Hagel’s appointment.

“That is a very serious statement and such a person, if his office is confirmed by the government in the US, I think it will not be a very happy event for us,” Reuters reported Joshi saying.

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