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India, Afghanistan committed to fighting cross-border terrorism

IANS  |  New Delhi 

and on Monday sent a strong message to and committed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with each other and fight cross-border and terror sanctuaries.

As the two countries signed 116 agreements in development sectors, including in health, agriculture and education, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India's relationship with was an article of faith as New Delhi would remain with Kabul in fighting the challenges of

Without naming Pakistan, the Minister said and remained "united in overcoming the challenges posed by cross-border and safe havens and sanctuaries to both our countries".

Sushma Swaraj was addressing a joint media conference with Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani following the "India-Strategic Partnership Council" talks here.

"For India, strategic partnership and friendship with is an article of faith. It is not just another relationship or an engagement, but a spiritual and civilisation connect."

Rabbani emphasised and had suffered from and violent extremism that has threatened the region's stability.

He named terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad "which have been launching attacks against and indiscriminately killing civilians of this country".

He said the Pakistan-based groups active in Jammu and Kashmir were "engaged in similar activities along with Taliban, Al Qaeda and Daesh in Afghanistan".

"Together they are killing our people on and destroying infrastructure," he said.

Sushma Swaraj said honoured 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," she said, adding that would begin implementation of the new 500 scholarships programme for next of kin of the martyrs of Afghan National Defence and Security Forces from the academic year 2018.

Sushma Swaraj referred to the high-level visits exchanged between the two countries over the last three years, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visits in December 2015 to inaugurate a new building of the Afghan Parliament in Kabul and then again in June 2016 to inaugurate the Salma Dam in Herat province reconstructed with India's aid.

"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," the Indian External Affairs Minister said.

"One hundred sixteen 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 "

Sushma Swaraj said would assist in building the Shahtoot dam in the Kabul river basin and drinking water supply project for Kabul, low cost housing for returning refugees, water supply network for Charikar city, and a 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," she stated.

Stating that both sides discussed measures for enhancing trade and investment cooperation, Sushma Swaraj said that has liberalised its visa regime, especially for Afghan businessmen.

She also referred to the Afghanistan-air freight corridor launched in June this year and said that this would provide direct access for Afghan farmers to the Indian markets.

"We are expediting the development of Chahbahar Port in trilateral cooperation with Iran," Sushma Swaraj said.

"We will begin supply of wheat to in coming weeks through Chahbahar port," she said.

In a significant development, and signed a Motors Vehicle Agreement on Monday.

"We hope that it would pave the way for overland transit," Sushma Swaraj said.

On his part, Rabbani thanked for its continued security cooperation and support in the fight against

"We need India's support to increase connectivity," he said, while welcoming the air freight connectivity and seeking more people-to-people contacts.

The Afghan Foreign Minister also invited India's "dynamic media" to visit his country.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, September 11 2017. 19:52 IST