Strategic partnership with Afghanistan article of faith for India: Sushma Swaraj

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 03:20 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 84 times

Addressing the press after the Indo-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Council with various ministers including Afghanistan FM Salahuddin Rabbani, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that a very fruitful and productive meeting had taken place. Sushma Swaraj praised Afghanistan’s cricket team, reiterated India's desire to stop cross-border terrorism and said India would keep on working with Afghanistan to ‘build governance and democratic institutions’

 

She said that for New Delhi, strategic partnership with Afghanistan is an ‘article of faith, which has a spiritual and civilisation connect’.

She added: “We have seen unprecedented high-level exchanges in last 3 years; our relations are important not just for our people, but also for the region. We jointly agreed to embark on a New Development Partnership in keeping with the priorities of Afghanistan. 116 new High Impact Development Projects would be jointly implemented that would bring socio-economic and infrastructure development.”

She said that focus would be on ‘building governance and democratic institutions, human resource capacity and skill development’. She said that measures to enhance trade and investment cooperation was discussed and India has liberalized visas for Afghan businessmen.

She added: “India-Afghanistan trade & investment show in New Delhi on September 27-30, 2017 will provide opportunity to bring businesses together.” The EAM added to improve connectivity and transit, India would be expediting development of Chahbahar Port in trilateral cooperation with Iran.

She added: “We commenced Air Freight Corridor in June 2017 to provide direct access to farmers of Afghanistan to the Indian markets. We signed the Motors Vehicle Agreement today. We hope that it would pave the way for overland transit.”

India already has a Motor Vehicles Agreement with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh for the 'seamless movement of traffic among the countries'.

She said India would continue to work with people of Afghanistan in their efforts to build a ‘secure, stable, peaceful, prosperous, united and inclusive nation’.

She said India would continue to support Afghanistan in overcoming challenges posed by cross-border terrorism.

We support national peace and reconciliation in an atmosphere free from violence and within the framework of Afghanistan’s Constitution

She signed off saying: “From 2018, a new 500 scholarships program for next of kin of the martyrs of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces will begin. India will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Afghanistan in realizing their dreams.”

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani said that both countries suffered from terrorism and violent extremism that threatened the ‘region’s stability’.

He added: “Current regional trends bring India and Afghanistan closer than ever to protect & achieve our socio-economic and security and trade interests.”

However, he added that Afghanistan’s friendship with India or any other country doesn’t mean hostility with others in our neighborhood. He said: “I must be clear that our friendship with India or any other country does not mean hostility with others in our neighborhood.”