In a stern message to Pakistan, India and Afghanistan today called for an end to all support, sponsorship and safe havens to terrorists and decided to strengthen security and defence cooperation.
During their talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani also expressed grave concern at continued use of terrorism for achieving political objectives in the region as the two leaders had extensive discussions on the regional and bilateral issues.
Reiterating India’s abiding support for a unified, sovereign, democratic, peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan, Modi conveyed the country’s readiness to consider further requirements for capacity and capability building in spheres such as education, health, agriculture, skill development, empowerment of women, energy, infrastructure and strengthening of democratic institutions.
“To this end, the Prime Minister offered that, as a close neighbour and friend of Afghanistan and its people, India would allocate a sum of USD 1 billion,” a joint statement said.
After the talks, the two sides inked three agreements -Extradition Treaty, cooperation in civil and commercial matters and the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
Briefing the reporters, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said, “The two leaders discussed the regional situation and expressed grave concern at continued use of terrorism and violence in the region for achieving political objectives.
“They agreed that this phenomenon presented the single biggest threat to peace, stability and progress in the region and beyond.”
Stressing that elimination of all forms of terrorism, without any discrimination, is essential, the leaders called upon “the concerned” to put an end to all sponsorship, support, safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists, including for those who target Afghanistan and India. However, they did not name Pakistan.
Asked if India conceded to long-pending demand of Afghanistan for stepped up defence supply, Jaishankar said, “Both leaders reaffirmed their resolve to counter terrorism and strengthen security and defence cooperation as envisaged in the India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement”.
However, the Foreign Secretary did not give any further details and only noted that this was discussed during the recent visit of the Afghanistan’s Chief of Army Staff to India.
The Prime Minister also proposed to supply world class and easily affordable medicines from India and cooperation in solar energy through mutually agreed instruments.
Jaishankar also talked about India’s offer of supplying 1.75 lakh tonne of wheat to Afghanistan, which was suffering shortage.
India wanted to supply the wheat and it made a request “months back” to Pakistan for the transit, he said, adding “we have not received any response”.
Modi and Ghani also agreed that the Strategic Partnership Council co-chaired by the External Affairs Minister and the Afghan Foreign Minister will meet shortly, review the recommendations of the four Joint Working Groups dealing with diverse areas of cooperation and impart further guidance.
Recalling that India-Afghanistan bilateral development cooperation has assisted Afghanistan’s own efforts for successful political, security and economic transitions, the two leaders noted with happiness the recent completion of major milestones such as Parliament Building and the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam, the statement said.
Both leaders said they looked forward to the resumption of India-US-Afghanistan consultations in New York later this month.
Prime Minister Modi conveyed to President Ghani that India would continue to engage with the international community to assist the Afghan President in all possible ways.
“In this context, the leaders underscored the significance of the Amritsar Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process (HoA) on the forthcoming 4 December, as well as the Brussels Conference on 5 October,” the joint statement said.
The leaders also noted that the choice of Amritsar underscored the value of restoring connectivity and was in consonance with this year’s theme for HoA: ‘Addressing Challenges, Achieving Prosperity’.
It also underscores that India and Afghanistan remain committed to the expeditious realisation of seamless two-way connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia.
The Prime Minister invited the President to grace the inauguration of the Amritsar Ministerial. The President accepted the invitation.