India today agreed to provide further assistance to Afghan defence forces during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani that also reviewed the security situation in the war-torn country. Asserting that its relationship with Afghanistan is an “article of faith” for India, Swaraj said the two countries remain united in overcoming the challenges posed by cross border terrorism and safe havens and sanctuaries.
Addressing a joint press meet after co-chairing the Indo-Afghan strategic partnership council with Swaraj, Rabbani said India and Afghanistan have 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 talked 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. “We jointly agreed to embark on a New Development Partnership in keeping with the priorities of Afghanistan..116 new High Impact Development Projects would be jointly implemented that would bring socio-economic and infrastructure development,” Swaraj said. The two countries also discussed measures for enhancing trade and investment cooperation, she said.