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Home > News > PTI

Allow transit to Afghanistan, India asks Pak

Ajay Kaul in Kabul | January 23, 2007 16:06 IST

India on Tuesday asked Pakistan to allow land-based transit facility to Afghanistan even as it announced $100 million additional aid and other initiatives of assistance for the war-ravaged country.

After his talks with his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India remained committed to helping Afghanistan in reconstruction and development, and hoped that the people of Afghanistan will overcome the challenges faced by them.

Addressing a joint press conference with Spanta, Mukherjee said allowing of transit facility by Pakistan was essential for connecting Central Asia with Asia. The minister said that during his recent visit to Islamabad, he had stressed that Pakistan should provide transit facility to Afghanistan through land.

Spanta hoped that in the long run Pakistan, Afghanistan and India will overcome the problem of 'disconnect' and connectivity will be re-established.

Underlining that India's policy was to improve relations with all its neighbours, he stressed the need for India and Pakistan coming together so that peace and stability could be provided to the region. 

Mukherjee, who arrived in Kabul earlier in the day to invite President Hamid Karzai to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit to be held in April, announced an increase in aid by $100 million from the current level of $650 million.

Mukherjee also announced the launch of small social projects which will cost $1 million.

A trilateral Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between India, Afghanistan and United Nations Development Project in the field of capacity building. Under the MoU, India will provide $1.08 billion with UNDP providing an equal amount.

Afghanistan was included in SAARC as its eighth member at the Dhaka Summit in December 2005 and it will be attending the upcoming meet for the first time.

After the Taliban was rooted out from Afghanistan in 2002, India has been assisting the country in reconstruction. Afghanistan's emergence as a democratic nation is also being helped by India, which is also constructing the Parliament building in Kabul.

During the talks with Afghan leaders, Mukherjee will try to assess how New Delhi can help energise democratic forces in Afghanistan.

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