India to offer more defence aid for Afghanistan

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India will extend further assistance for the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, the two countries announced after the 2nd round of their strategic partnership council meeting here.

Announcing the launch of a next generation New Development Partnership, India and Afghanistan also agreed to take up 116 High Impact Community Development Projects to be implemented in 31 provinces of Afghanistan, including in the areas of education, health, agriculture, irrigation, drinking water, renewable energy, flood control, micro-hydropower, sports infrastructure, administrative infrastructure.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said India’s relationship with Afghanistan is an “article of faith” for India and that the two countries remained united in overcoming the challenges posed by cross border terrorism and safe havens and sanctuaries.

Addressing a joint press meet after co-chairing the meeting with Swaraj, Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani said India and Afghanistan had agreed to strengthen security cooperation.

“India has further agreed to provide assistance to Afghan national defence forces,” he said. Afghanistan has long been pressing for greater Indian assistance in defence supplies and capacity building. He also asserted that his country’s friendship with India does not mean hostility to any other country and added that it is not a zero-sum game.

The Afghan leader noted that India and Afghanistan were victims of terrorism and violent extremism. He also spoke about terror acts by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed which were threatening the region’s stability.

The two sides inked four pacts after the meeting, including a motor vehicles agreement and a fresh document on India’s development assistance.

“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,” said a joint statement issued after the meeting.

“It was agreed to strengthen security cooperation between the two countries. India agreed to extend further assistance for the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces in fighting the scourge of terrorism, organized crime, trafficking of narcotics and money laundering,” it added.

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