New Delhi/Kandahar, Feb 15 IANS | 10 months ago

India will continue to assist the Afghan national security forces in whatever manner possible, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said in Afghanistan's Kandahar city where he inaugurated an Indian-supported agricultural university, a major capacity-building initiative.

Addressing the inauguration that was attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Khurshid said India's support to the Afghanistan National Agricultural Sciences and Technology University (ANASTU) was an important activity of their bilateral strategic partnership.

"India will continue to assist the ANSF in whatever manner is possible within our capacities. We have always said that a peaceful, prosperous and sovereign Afghanistan that is capable of defending itself is in India's strategic interest," he said.

With the US-led international forces draw down from Afghanistan slated to be completed this year, the Afghan forces have begun to take on a larger role in the security of the country.

Khurshid also lavished praise on Karzai's leadership, saying the upcoming presidential elections were a "testament to the fact that democracy has taken firm roots in this country".

"It is also a testament to your extraordinary and brave leadership over the last 12 years, and the manner in which you have nurtured the plant of democracy in this country," he said.

Stressing that the main threat to Afghanistan's security and its internal stability is terrorism and extremism that continues to target the country's people, Khurshid said India has also been facing the threat for many years.

He also reassured that India would always be with Afghanistan in its battle against terrorism and extremism.

Khurshid said India supports Karzai's efforts to establish a "genuine Afghan-owned, Afghan-led and Afghan-controlled reconciliation process in Afghanistan to offer a chance to members of armed opposition groups willing to give up terror and abide by the Afghan Constitution, the possibility of participating as equal citizens in Afghanistan's national life".

"It is only the brave and the strong who can offer peace to adversaries. We support your brave efforts," said the Indian external affairs minister.

He said for India, a strong, prosperous and economically independent Afghanistan is a strategic priority and a key element of their strategic partnership agreement and termed the university as the beginning of a very important cooperation venture between the two countries.

The ANASTU is the first agriculture university in the country, and comes up in Kandahar, the agricultural and political hub for southern Afghanistan.

Karzai was accompanied by several of his cabinet members, including Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi.

He said the university was the beginning of a very important cooperation venture between our two countries, according to Tolo News.

(Posted on 15-02-2014)

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