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India, Afghanistan discuss peace, development and cooperation

May 01, 2012 17:52 IST

India on Tuesday assured that its assistance was neither "transitory" nor in "transition" to Afghanistan, which said it was looking forward to increasing training and capacity building of its security forces apart from equipping them with Indian help.

The two countries also set in motion the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement, inked last year during Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to Delhi, by launching the Partnership Council, co-chaired by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rassoul.

The Afghan minister also briefed Krishna on the peace process and said "the cooperation partnership is not only good to our two countries but also important for promoting peace, security and prosperity in the region".

"Let me assure you that while it is a time of change and transformation in the region, India's commitment to Afghanistan is neither transitory nor in transition," Krishna said at a joint press conference.

Asserting that India would continue to partner the Afghan government to ensure that it is a source of regional stability and does not become a target for extremist forces, Krishna said, "Afghanistan's defence of its own territory is of extreme importance to us. Our security is entwined with the stability and security of Afghanistan."

Krishna and Rassoul held wide-ranging talks that included security situation, political, economic and trade, education, capacity building and people-to-people contact.

India also assured that the political engagement and broad-based development assistance in a wide range of sectors, which have been identified by the Afghan government as
priority areas for reconstruction and development, will not only continue "but is set to intensify under the framework of the Partnership Council".

New Delhi continues its engagement in reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in alignment with the Afghan National Development Strategy, the minister said, adding that he has informed Rassoul of the country's intention to hold a meeting of regional investors on Afghanistan in New Delhi.

The two leaders also reviewed the outcomes of the first Joint Working Group on Political and Security Consultations held on Monday between the foreign secretary of India and the deputy foreign minister of Afghanistan.

"We have directed that the other three Joint Working Groups under the Partnership Council on Trade & Economic Cooperation; Capacity Development and Education; and Social, Cultural, Civil Society and people-to-people contacts meet at an early date. We are hopeful that these meetings will further enhance and deepen our bilateral cooperation," Krishna said.

He also commended the Afghan National Security Force for handling the April 15 terror attacks with "confidence" and hoped that they would be able to take care of the country's security after international troops leave in 2014.

Krishna also pitched for "an Afghan-led inclusive and transparent reconciliation process".

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