India Pledges Solid Support Following Delhi Summit
AVA- Afghanistan and India on Monday wrapped up their second Strategic Partnership Council Meeting in New Delhi, in India, where the two countries pledged to expand their economic, political, security and bilateral relations.
In a joint statement issued on Monday it was stated that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and their external affairs minister emphasized that the two nations enjoyed time-tested and friendly relations over the course of time and reiterated India’s ongoing support for a united, sovereign, democratic, peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
According to the statement, the Strategic Partnership Council discussed a range of issues and four joint working groups reached consensus in the areas of political and security issues; trade, commerce and investment; development cooperation; and human resource development, education and culture.
On the issue of trade, the statement said the two sides welcomed the establishment of the Air Cargo Corridor between Kabul and Kandahar with New Delhi in June and it was agreed the route would expand to include other cities in Afghanistan and India and to increase the frequency of the cargo flights between the two countries.
“Reaffirming the importance of connectivity and free and unfettered transport and transit access for Afghanistan and Central Asia, both sides agreed to work towards expeditious operationalization of the Chabahar Port in Iran.”
According to the statement, the Afghan side welcomed the imminent commencement of wheat shipments of 170,000 metric tons from India to Afghanistan via Chabahar Port.
The two sides also agreed to move forward with 116 high impact community development projects that will be implemented in 31 provinces. This would include projects in the areas of education, health, agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydropower, sports infrastructure, and administrative infrastructure.
A number of other key projects were agreed upon including the upgrading of Shahtoot dam in Kabul, the implementation of low cost housing projects for return refugees, and the establishment of a water supply network for Charikar city in Parwan province among others.
From a political and security perspective both sides expressed grave concern at the level of incidents of terror and violence in Afghanistan which has resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives this year.
“Noting that terrorism presented the greatest threat to peace, stability and progress of the region and beyond, they called for an end to all forms of support, State sponsorship, safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists against Afghanistan,” the statement read.
The two countries agreed to strengthen security cooperation between Kabul and Delhi and India agreed to extend further assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in fighting terrorism, organized crime, trafficking of narcotics and money laundering.
The Indian government also reiterated its support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.
In addition, it was agreed the ICCR Special Scholarship Scheme for Afghans would continue through to 2022 and that a scheme for 500 scholarships for graduate studies in India for the next-of-kin of martyrs of the Afghan security forces would be implemented for next year. The statement also indicated that India would expand medical assistance for Afghan National Army personnel.
In conclusion, the statement read: “It was agreed to have regular meetings of the Joint Working Groups, including to monitor implementation of the decisions taken. Both sides agreed to hold the thirdmeeting of the Strategic Partnership Council in Kabul on mutually convenient dates in 2018.”