India will support Afghanistan in defence building

New Delhi, Dec 15 : India would continue to back Afghanistan in building its defence capability as the two nations have agreed to forge a strong and broad-based strategic partnership, said officials on Sunday.

Karzai, who is on a four-day visit to India that concludes on Sunday, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on Friday when the visiting leader was assured of assistance, said the MEA in a release.

"The two leaders [Karzai and Singh] also agreed on deepening defence and security cooperation, including through enhancement in training and meeting the equipment and infrastructure needs of Afghanistan National Security and Defence Forces that would increase their operational capabilities and mobility. The two leaders also agreed to expand opportunities for higher military education in India for Afghan officers," said the official statement of India's external affairs ministry.

During the bilateral talks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed "great pleasure at the strong and broad-based strategic partnership between India and Afghanistan and exchanged views on regional and global environment."

The two leaders discussed at length the progress in the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement.

"President Karzai briefed Prime Minister on the political, security, and economic situation in Afghanistan, including the ongoing security transition in the country and Afghanistan's relations with other countries. Prime Minister conveyed India's confidence in the ability of the people and the government of Afghanistan to build a strong, united, stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan that also contributes to regional peace and prosperity," said the statement.

Singh reiterated India's commitment to support Afghanistan through the transition and beyond. The two leaders also agreed to work on further strengthening regional cooperation with the aim of regional integration and development, including through the Heart of Asia process. India is hosting the next meeting of the Senior Officials of Heart of Asia on Jan 17, 2014.

Consistent with their shared vision of Afghanistan and peace and security in the region, Prime Minister and President Karzai affirmed their commitment to further intensify their partnership in all areas, in accordance with their Strategic Partnership Agreement.

Singh conveyed India's continuing support for all-round socio-economic development of Afghanistan through promotion of business links, educational scholarships, and implementation of Indian assisted development and reconstruction projects. The two leaders also agreed to work with the Islamic Republic of Iran for development of new trade routes to facilitate trade and transit to Afghanistan and beyond.

Singh also thanked President Karzai for the support extended by the Government of Afghanistan in safeguarding Indian Missions and
personnel in Afghanistan.

Singh conveyed deep gratitude to the Afghan security forces for thwarting the suicide attack against Indian Consulate in Jalalabad in Aug 2013. The two leaders reiterated their resolve to work together as well as with the international community to counter the forces of terrorism and extremism that have been affecting the two countries and threatening the entire region.

President Pranab Mukherjee hosted President Karzai to a private dinner, where the two leaders discussed bilateral, regional and international issues of common concern.

President Mukherjee fondly recalled his visit to Afghanistan to inaugurate the Zaranj-Delaram Highway. President Karzai extended an invitation to President Mukherjee to visit Afghanistan.

President Karzai is accompanied by a high level delegation comprising Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zarar Ahmad Osmani, National Security Advisor Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Acting Minister of Commerce & Industries, Shaker Kargar and other senior officials.

Karzai is leaving for his country on Sunday after addressing a gathering at the Symbiosis International University in Pune along with a student interaction.

--IBNS (Posted on 15-12-2013)

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