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8:01 am - Friday December 15, 2017

India and Afghanistan to deepen ties to fight terror, ensure stability in region

Agencies, New Delhi

India and Afghanistan on Tuesday agreed to deepen bilateral strategic dialogue to achieve “shared objectives” in fighting terror menace and ensure peace and stability in the terror-devastated nation.

Both sides agreed that the recent “convergence and alignment” of views at regional and international arenas have created opportunities for bringing peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.

At the high-level delegation level talks here led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on one side and the Afghan side led by the visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, “It was agreed to further deepen the bilateral strategic dialogue and consultations at all levels in order to achieve the shared objectives”, a statement from MEA said.

The note of optimism comes especially in the context of greater role for India suggested by the United States in pursuing its ‘New Strategy’ for South Asia. The assertions was made at the delegation level talks which was led from Indian side by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Afghan side led by the visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“It was emphasised that renunciation of violence and terror; and closure of cross border safe havens and sanctuaries were essential for any meaningful progress and lasting peace,” the statement said. India reiterated its support for a negotiated political reconciliation in Afghanistan that will be “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled”.

The Indian side agreed to extend further assistance to the terror-hit nation “depending upon the needs of the Afghan defence and police forces”, said the statement. Afghanistan President Mr Ghani was on a one-day working visit on Tuesday at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi.

This was President Ghani’s fourth visit to India in the last 3 years and 12th personal interaction between him and PM Modi. Mr Ghani’s visit to national capital here coincides with the three-day visit of the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson beginning later in the evening.“Detailed discussions were held between the Prime Minister and President Ghani in one on one format, restricted meeting and a working lunch,” the statement said.

Both sides reiterated their commitment to their strategic partnership and positively assessed the outcomes of the recent high level bilateral exchanges, including the visits of Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah and Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani to India last month. The Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had also visited Afghanistan last week.

The MEA statement further said, “The New Development Partnership that was launched at the meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council on 11 September was assessed as a significant step in building upon the highly successful development cooperation of the past 16 years”.

The new generation India assisted projects, including in the fields of health, agriculture, drinking water supply, education, renewable energy, infrastructure development, skill development and capacity building, among others will further contribute to Afghanistan’s reconstruction, economic development and effective governance, it said.

Deep appreciation was expressed for the bravery with which the Afghan forces were fighting terrorism imposed on Afghanistan. “The support extended by India in the defence and security fields, including training of thousands of Afghan defence and security personnel was positively assessed.

The Indian side agreed to extend further assistance depending upon the needs of the Afghan defence and police forces,” MEA said. Issues related to connectivity were discussed in detail.

“The establishment of the air freight corridor was acknowledged as an important factor in providing Afghan farmers a direct and easy access to the Indian market,” the statement said. The efforts for early operationalisation of the Chahbahar Port, including the shipments of wheat in coming weeks to Afghanistan through the Port was considered as a step that would shape new trade and transit opportunities for landlocked Afghanistan.

“The Indian side reiterated the readiness about its Integrated Check Post at Attari for receiving Afghan trucks carrying goods to and from India. Both sides agreed to work closely with the regional and international partners; and consult, coordinate and cooperate in various international fora,” the statement said. Both sides shared opinion to further the objective of seeing Afghanistan emerge as a stable, peaceful, united, progressive, properous and pluralistic nation.

Earlier in the morning, President Ghani met his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind while External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also called on the visiting dignitary.

Posted in: Featured, Nation

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