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Media Statement by External Affairs Minister during the visit of Foreign Minister of Afghanistan (September 11, 2017)

September 11, 2017

H.E. Mr Salahuddin Rabbani, Foreign Minister of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,
Members of the both delegations,
Friends from the media,


At the outset, I extend a very warm welcome to His Excellency to India.

We just concluded a very fruitful and productive second meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council.

We reviewed the entire gamut of our multifaceted cooperation along with stakeholders from concerned Ministries and Departments.

You have just witnessed exchange of a few Agreements between the two sides. A Joint Statement is being issued later.

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.

Over the past three years, we have seen unprecedented high level exchanges. Prime Minister Modi has visited Afghanistan twice. We had the privilege to host President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah in India on a number of occasions. We share the conviction that India-Afghanistan relations are important not just for our people, but also for the region.

Today, building upon our economic and development cooperation, 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, 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.

We discussed measures for enhancing trade and investment cooperation. The India-Afghanistan trade and investment show in New Delhi on September 27-30, 2017 will provide opportunity to bring businesses together. India has liberalised visa, especially for Afghan businessmen.

Importance of connectivity and transit for Afghanistan is not lost on anyone. We commenced Air Freight Corridor in June 2017 to provide direct access to farmers of Afghanistan to the Indian markets. We are expediting the development of Chahbahar Port in trilateral cooperation with Iran. We will begin supply of wheat to Afghanistan in coming weeks through Chahbahar port. We signed the Motors Vehicle Agreement today. 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.

India has been and will continue to work with the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to build a secure, stable, peaceful, prosperous, united and inclusive nation.

The National Unity Government in Afghanistan successfully completes three years this month. We support national peace and reconciliation in an atmosphere free from violence and within the framework of Afghanistan’s Constitution. India will continue to support Afghan and international efforts in this regard.

We remain united in overcoming the challenges posed by cross border terrorism and safe havens and sanctuaries to both our countries. We honour the supreme sacrifices made by Afghan Defence and Security Forces for the cause of entire humanity. We are indebted to them for ensuring safety of Indians working in Afghanistan. We will extend all possible assistance and begin implementation of the new 500 scholarships programme for next of kin of the martyrs of Afghan National Defence and Security Forces from Academic year 2018.

The fact that Afghanistan attained status of test playing cricketing nation is testament to the indomitable spirit of the people of Afghanistan to not let the forces of death and destruction prevail.

Excellency, in conclusion, let me reiterate that India will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Afghanistan in realising their dreams.

Thank you.

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