India reiterates commitment to Afghan-led peace process; countries vow to strengthen connectivity
Ashraf Ghani briefed Narendra Modi on the Afghanistan government's initiatives towards peace and to confront the challenges of terrorism and extremism.
New Delhi: India on Wednesday reiterated its commitment and support to Kabul's efforts towards an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process, at a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in Delhi.
According to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, the two countries also agreed to strengthen their cooperation at various international fora and decided to work even more closely with their regional and international partners for prosperity, peace, stability and progress in the region.
They also expressed determination to strengthen connectivity among the two countries, including through the Chabahar port and direct air-freight corridor.
Ghani briefed Modi on the initiatives by his government towards peace and reconciliation and also in confronting the challenges of terrorism and extremism imposed on Afghanistan and its people.
Modi condemned terrorist attacks and violence in Afghanistan and expressed solidarity with the people and national defence forces in their fight against terrorism. He expressed India's "unwavering commitment" to support the efforts of the Afghanistan government to continue as a united, peaceful, inclusive and democratic nation and emerge as an economically vibrant country.
The two leaders reviewed the progress of the multi-faceted India-Afghanistan strategic partnership and expressed satisfaction at the increase in bilateral trade that has crossed the $1-billion mark.
During the meeting, the two countries also agreed to deepen their partnership in the areas of high impact projects in Afghanistan in the fields of infrastructure, human resources development and other capacity building projects.
According to official sources in Delhi, Ghani appreciated the decision of India and China to jointly work on projects and programmes in Afghanistan.
The two Asian countries are planning to start their partnership in Afghanistan with a training programme for Afghan diplomats in October. Modi, the sources said, also sought long-term business visas for Indian businessmen to boost bilateral trade.
The India-backed Shahtoot dam that will be crucial for drinking water in Kabul also came up for discussion during Wednesday's meeting. "We hope we can move closer to its finalisation," a source said.
Among other issues that came up for discussion, it is learnt, are a low-cost housing project in Nangarhar province, irrigation projects, polishing of gems, food processing and export of marbles to India.
During the meeting, Modi expressed concern over the six Indian workers who were abducted in Afghanistan in May this year. Ghani said he was personally monitoring the issue and assured Modi of the workers' safe release.
Responding to a question that opposition and critics term Modi an autocratic leader who takes all decisions on his own, Shah described the prime minister as a "democratic leader".
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