India supports nation-building efforts of Afghanistan, assures Manmohan Singh
Asserting that the natural bond between the two countries is based on several millennia of engagement, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Monday said 'India supports the nation-building efforts of Afghanistan, especially in the areas of governance, security and development'.
"The natural bond between India and Afghanistan is based on several millennia of engagement between our peoples. We also support efforts to achieve a lasting peace in Afghanistan that brings together all sections of Afghan society while preserving the achievements of the last decade, including in the area of women's rights. We respect the choices that the Afghan people make of their own free will," Dr. Singh at the media interaction during State Visit of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.
"I am confident President Karzai's present visit will further strengthen the excellent relationship between our two countries. I once again convey my personal good wishes to President Karzai as he leads his country through a challenging time and wish to assure him that India stands with him and the people of Afghanistan," he added.
Asserting that India remains committed to supporting Afghan in its development efforts, Dr. said: "Our development assistance commitment to Afghanistan currently stands at approximately 2 billion dollars. We have expanded our programmes for capacity-building, institution-building and human resource development. With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding today, we will launch the Third Phase of Small Development Projects to address the socio-economic needs of people throughout Afghanistan."
Lauding President Karzai, Dr. Singh said: "President Karzai is no stranger to India. He has long been a close friend of our country and a steadfast supporter of India-Afghanistan relations."
"We admire his leadership of Afghanistan through a critical period of more than a decade, during which Afghanistan has made significant progress despite multiple challenges. I therefore consider it a special privilege to be able to receive him in Delhi on a State Visit," he added.
Emphasizing that international support needed to combat terrorism in Afghanistan, Dr. Singh said: "We also discussed the changes in the security and political situation in and around Afghanistan. I expressed to President Karzai our belief that sustained international support and cooperation in all respects, including in combating terrorism emanating from the neighbourhood, will help Afghanistan meet these challenges."
"President Karzai's own enlightened leadership will play a big part in this effort," he added.