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Afghanistan’s Pres. to discuss Chabahar with Indian PM

New Delhi, Indian Media report that the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will discuss Iran's Chabahar port with Indian Prime Minister Naredra Modi during a meeting here on Wednesday.

President Ghani is here to discuss security cooperation with the Indian leadership. His schedule includes a meeting with Modi in the afternoon.

He will also ask India to expedite work on various India-supported infrastructure projects, including the Chabahar Port.

The Statesman, a leading Indian newspaper wrote that amid an upsurge in violence in his embattled nation, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is coming to New Delhi to discuss security cooperation with the Indian leadership.

Ghani will also attend a civil reception in his honour hosted by the India Foundation, a think tank, in the evening before flying back to Kabul.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had last week visited Kabul to extend an invitation to Ghani on behalf of Modi to visit India. The visit is expected to build upon the recent high-level bilateral exchanges between the two countries.

Informed sources said the two countries would have an opportunity to review the entire gamut of multi-faceted bilateral strategic partnership, including the development partnership, hold consultations and coordinate on furthering the shared objective of promoting peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and efforts to combat the menace of terrorism; and discuss regional and global issues of mutual interest.

India has also decided to take up 116 high impact community development projects in 31 provinces of Afghanistan.

New Delhi also announced that ongoing programs for education, capacity building, skills and human resource development in Afghanistan, one of the largest such programs in the world, would continue for a further period of five years from 2017 to 2022.

Another newspaper, the Hindu, reported that Afghanistan is seeking India's support for its peace process, as well as for military hardware like helicopters.

Quoting Afghanistan's Ambassador to India Shaida Abdali, it noted that Afghanistan and India are strategic partners and according to the SPA, there is a particular clause on regular strategic consultations between the two countries.

'Afghanistan is currently facing a very critical time in all respects, and we certainly need to sit down with all our friends and strategic partners like India to discuss how to deal with terrorism and security issues that ultimately affect all of us. This is a day-long visit, but we expect it to be productive, the ambassador told the hindu.'

'Later this year we hope to hold the Strategic Partnership Council meeting (headed by the Foreign Ministers) in Kabul to discuss the progress made and decisions taken by both countries. With regard to defence and security, we understand India's limits in terms of what it can do to help Afghan security forces. But we have received defence equipment and have asked for more. We have recently signed a MoU that aims to deliver another four helicopters to Afghanistan, and we hope they will come to us in the near future, procured by India from Belarus,' Dr. Abdali said.

He added, 'Currently Afghanistan is transitioning from Soviet-era equipment to the NATO-system of equipment and for the short term of transition, as we wait for about 200 US-made helicopters including Apaches that we will get by 2022, we need India's help to fill the gap.'

Focusing on the same topic , Times of India wrote that in recent years, India and Afghanistan have developed strategic ties. The value of bilateral trade between the two countries has risen to $ 200 million in recent years. India has invested a lot in Afghanistan and trained Afghan troops and gave the country military equipment.

The air corridor of India and Afghanistan facilitates Afghanistan's access to Indian markets and provides Afghan businessmen with the opportunity to use the global business networks. Meanwhile, last year India shipped its first wheat consignment to Afghanistan through Chabahar. India plans to expand its business with Afghanistan without Pakistan's help through the development of the Chabahar Port.

A few days ago, some Indian newspapers carried a story, quoting the US Ambassador to Afghanistan saying that Pakistan has offered its territory to India to reach Afghanistan and indicated its willingness to discuss resumption of trade between Afghanistan and India via Pakistan through the land route. Later on, Islamabad denied the claim.

Chabahar agreement was signed in Iran recently by Delhi, Kabul and Tehran. The signatories to the agreement were India's prime minister and Afghan president. The goals of the agreement was cooperation among the three countries to activate the North-South Corridor and implement the transportation projects of high importance.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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