New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday pledged to end terrorism, saying “closure of state-sponsored safe sanctuaries” for terrorists was essential for lasting peace in the region.
On a day-long visit to India, Ghani held detailed talks with the Prime Minister on promoting peace and security in war-torn Afghanistan.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Modi and Ghani discussed a “range of bilateral, regional and global issues” and expressed their “firm resolve to end menace of terrorism”.
This was Ghani’s fourth visit to India in three years and 12th personal interaction with Modi.
The latest trip comes ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s three-day visit to India beginning on Wednesday. US President Donald Trump has asked India to play a greater role in rebuilding Afghanistan.
Tillerson also made an unannounced trip to Kabul on Monday and met the Afghan President.
Modi reiterated his government’s “support for a negotiated political reconciliation in Afghanistan that is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled”, an MEA statement said.
“It was emphasised that renunciation of violence and terror and closure of state sponsored safe havens and sanctuaries were essential for any meaningful progress and lasting peace,” said the statement, issued after the two leaders met here.
The two sides reiterated their commitment to their strategic partnership and assessed the outcomes of the recent high-level bilateral exchanges, including the visits of Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Foreign Minister Rabbani to India last month and that of National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to Afghanistan last week.
Detailed discussions were held between Modi and Ghani in one-on-one format, restricted meeting and a working lunch.
The two sides expressed “deep appreciation for the bravery with which the Afghan forces were fighting terrorism imposed on Afghanistan”, according to the statement
India “agreed to extend further assistance depending upon the needs of the Afghan defence and police forces” as the two sides “positively assessed” New Delhi’s support in the defence and security, including training of thousands of Afghan defence and security personnel.
The two sides also assessed the New Development Partnership launched at the meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council on September 11.
They held the partnership “as a significant step in building upon the highly successful development cooperation of the past 16 years” between the two countries.
India is assisting Afghanistan in developing projects, including in the fields of health, agriculture, drinking water supply, education, renewable energy, infrastructure development, skill development and capacity building, to help the country in its reconstruction, economic development and effective governance after decades of violence.
“Both sides agreed that the recent convergence and alignment of views at regional and international arenas have created opportunities for bringing peace, security and stability in Afghanistan. It was agreed to further deepen the bilateral strategic dialogue and consultations at all levels in order to achieve the shared objectives.”
The two sides discussed issues related to connectivity. The establishment of the air freight corridor that began in June was acknowledged as an important factor in providing Afghan farmers a direct and easy access to the Indian market.
The efforts for early operationalisation of the Chahbahar Port, including the shipments of wheat in coming weeks to Afghanistan through it, was considered as a step that would shape new trade and transit opportunities for the landlocked country.
Earlier, Ghani met President Ram Nath Kovind and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
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