DEVELOPMENT

India, Afghanistan to jointly implement over 100 projects

PTI9_11_2017_000129B External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with Salahuddin Rabbani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan before a meeting in New Delhi | PTI

Days after US President Donald Trump asked India to help Afghanistan in its development, both the countries are on way to increase their strategic and development partnership. Over 100 new development projects will be jointly implemented by India and Afghan. 

If India pledged help in the infrastructure sector, the Afghans addressed New Delhi's concerns over terrorism by acknowledging threat by Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, both Pakistan-based terror organisations.

Afghan foreign minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, is here for enhancing the strategic partnership. He met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

Swaraj addressed a joint conference with Rabbani in New Delhi on Monday, where four agreements were signed. 

“116 new high impact development projects would be jointly implemented that would bring socio-economic and infrastructure development, especially in the suburban and rural communities in 31 provinces of Afghanistan. India will assist in Shatoot dam and drinking water supply project for Kabul, low cost housing for returning refugees, water supply network for Charikar city, polyclinic in Mazar-e-Sharif, among others. 

“Focus will continue on building governance and democratic institutions; human resource capacity and skill development, including in the areas of education, health, agriculture, energy, administration, application of remote sensing in resource management and space technology in governance,” Swaraj said.

Rabbani referred to terrorism and violent extremism affecting both the countries. He also talked about terror acts by Pakistan-based Lashkar–e–Taiba and Jaish–e–Mohammed which were threatening the region’s stability. He asserted that Afganistan's friendship with India does not mean hostility to any other country and added that it is not a zero-sum game.

To further enhance trade and investment cooperation, the India-Afghanistan trade and investment show will held here later this month.

India will also begin supply of wheat to Afghanistan in coming weeks through Chahbahar port. India also signed the Motors Vehicle Agreement. “We hope that it would pave the way for overland transit. India also hopes to join the regional trade and transit Agreements that have Afghanistan at its heart,” Swaraj added.

After foreign minister Rabbani met Prime Minister Modi and discussed the situation in Afghanistan, official sources said both agreed that Afghan peace process has to be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

Stressing on the India-Afghanistan relations, the external affairs minister said, “For India, Strategic partnership and friendship with Afghanistan is an article of faith. It is not just another relationship or an engagement, but a spiritual and civilization connect.”

As a humantarian gesture, India offered to begin implementation of the new 500 scholarships programme for next of kin of the martyrs of Afghan National Defence and Security Forces from the academic year 2018. 

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