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India, Afghanistan to intensify security, defence cooperation

Sushma Swaraj

Sushma SwarajKabul: India today assured all possible help to the Afghan people to realise their vision of a strong, independent and prosperous Afghanistan as the two countries agreed to intensify cooperation in areas like security, defence and reconstruction work in the war-torn country.

India’s assurance was conveyed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai and held a wide-ranging talks on political and security situation, ahead of the NATO drawdown later this year.

During the meeting, the two sides agreed to intensify cooperation in areas like security and defence.

Swaraj also inaugurated a new USD 40 million Indian Embassy building in the heart of Afghan Kabul, featuring an integrated security system.

“This is critical decade of transformation for Afghanistan. India will always be Afghanistan’s first strategic partner and we will always share Afghan people’s vision of a strong, independent, united and prosperous Afghanistan for which so many Afghans sacrificed so much,” Swaraj said while inaugurating the Embassy building.

“India is prepared to do whatever is possible, whichever capabilities and means, to work with Afghan government and its people to realise this vision.

“India is here to stay,” she said.

During her meeting with Karzai, Swaraj expressed India’s strong commitment to continue extending its all possible help to Afghanistan to meet various challenges and conveyed that it will remain engaged in the country’s reconstruction activities in a significant way.

India has invested USD two billion in aid and reconstruction and trained scores of Afghan officers.

Both the sides underlined the need for expanding trade ties.

Swaraj, who is on her first visit here as External Affairs Minister, drove straight from the airport to presidential palace where she held talks with Karzai on various key issues.

Sources said entire political situation was also discussed during the meeting.

Swaraj said India will speed up various development projects in Afghanistan.

As NATO forces prepare to withdraw from the country, Afghanistan wants India to help it in meeting security challenges. Afghanistan has been pressing India for supply of military hardware and weapons system to it.

Sources said Afghan side conveyed to India its security needs.

Karzai has already given a “wish-list” to India.


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