India-Afghanistan To Work On Combating Terrorism
S M Krishna
India and Afghanistan have underlined terrorism as "the most important security threat facing the region" and have resolved to intensify cooperation in combating it. They will also set up a partnership council to enhance developmental ties.
The two countries issued a joint statement on Tuesday after wide-ranging talks between Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta on Monday evening.
"The two ministers reaffirmed the abiding determination of the two governments to work for making South Asia an abode of peace, prosperity, moderation and cooperation," the statement said.
"They highlighted terrorism as the most important security threat facing the region and reiterated their full resolve to combat it," the statement said.
Spanta also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and met National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan during his two-day visit to India that ended Tuesday.
In his discussions with Spanta, Manmohan Singh expressed "India's support for the aspiration of the Afghan people to build a peaceful, prosperous, democratic, and pluralistic nation."
Manmohan Singh also conveyed "his best wishes" to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other leaders of Afghanistan for the forthcoming elections next month and hoped it would would strengthen the democratic process in Afghanistan.
The two countries also decided to establish an India-Afghanistan Partnership Council, in a step that underlined India's resolve to continue with the reconstruction of Afghanistan with greater vigour despite the attack on its embassy in Kabul July 7 last year -- blamed on Pakistan-backed Taliban militants.
The council will be composed of separate groups on political consultation, capacity development and education, power and water, culture, trade and industry, health, and agriculture.
"This will harness greater institutional support for the implementation of ongoing programmes and enlarge development cooperation between the two countries," the joint statement said.
India has pledged over $1.2 billion in developmental assistance to Afghanistan that covers a range of economic and social developmental activities. Over 4,000 Indians are engaged in different reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.