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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  India vows to be Afghanistan’s first strategic partner
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India vows to be Afghanistan’s first strategic partner

Sushma Swaraj assures all possible help to the country in achieving its vision of an independent and prosperous nation

A file photo of Sushma Swaraj. Photo: PTIPremium
A file photo of Sushma Swaraj. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday stated India’s commitment to be Afghanistan’s “first strategic partner" as she announced the country’s contribution of $1 million for an Afghan plan to develop its national flag monument site into a public area.

Swaraj, who is on her first visit to Afghanistan—which India considers part of its immediate neighbourhood—since taking office in May, also emphasized the commitment to “assist Afghanistan in whatever manner is possible" within India’s means.

The minister also assured all possible help to the central Asian country in achieving its vision of a strong, independent and prosperous nation as the two countries agreed to intensify cooperation in security, defence and reconstruction work. Swaraj conveyed this message during a meeting with Afghan president Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Wednesday, the first day of her two-day visit to Afghanistan.

Later, inaugurating a new $40-million Indian embassy building in Kabul, Swaraj noted that 2014 was a critical year for Afghanistan, in a reference to the economic, political and military transitions expected in the country.

The US-led international troops exit Afghanistan this year and the country is looking to wean itself off international aid and install a new government to replace the one headed by Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

“As you can see, India is here to stay. This is a critical decade of transformation for Afghanistan. India will always be Afghanistan’s first strategic partner. And we will always share the Afghan people’s vision of a strong, independent, united and prosperous Afghanistan for which so many Afghans sacrificed so much," she said in her speech during the inauguration of the new embassy building. The foundation stone for the building was laid by previous prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 and work on the building started in 2009.

India has spent $2 billion in aid and reconstruction in Afghanistan and trained scores of its officers. A PTI report from Afghanistan citing unnamed people said that as the international troops prepare to withdraw, Afghanistan wants India to help it in meeting security challenges, pressing India to supply military hardware and weapons systems to it.

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Published: 10 Sep 2014, 02:09 PM IST
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