India will always stand firmly beside Afghanistan, says President Pranab Mukherjee



By NewsGram Staff Writer

Welcoming President Ashraf Ghani on his first state visit to India as the President of Afghanistan, President Mukherjee conveyed his condolences over the tragic death of 52 persons in a land slide in the Badakhshan Province yesterday. He said India was proud of its close relations with Afghanistan.

“India shares the Afghan President’s goal of building a strong, prosperous and independent Afghanistan. It appreciates the work he is doing and the formation of a national unity government which adds a new dimension to the process of democratic evolution in Afghanistan, ” Mukherjee said.

The President said India supports an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned national reconciliation process within the framework of the Afghan constitution. India-Afghanistan co-operation has neither an expiry date nor a timeline. As a friend and neighbour, India will always stand firmly beside Afghanistan. India considers it a privilege to share its capabilities and experience in nation-building and inclusive development with people of Afghanistan.

Talking about the bilateral trade, the President said, “72 Indian companies have invested around US$ 17 million in Afghanistan from 2003-2013. India will encourage more companies to invest in Afghanistan.” He expressed confidence that Afghan President’s visit will further strengthen the two country’s successful co-operation in all spheres of shared interest.

Responding to President Mukherjee, the Afghan President said it was an honour to be invited to stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan and an important recognition granted to the people of Afghanistan.

President Ghani thanked President Mukherjee for his condolences and expressed sympathies for the people of Nepal dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake. He conveyed appreciation for India’s leadership in disaster management and called for a regional framework for the purpose. President Ghani said  that Afghanistan hoped  to have a shared destiny and destination with India in Asia.

Later, in his banquet speech, President Mukherjee said, “Although the Afghan President has travelled to India in his previous capacities on a number of occasions, this is a special visit. This time he is visiting India as leader of the National Unity Government in Afghanistan and as President of a nation with whom India has a cherished history of profound cultural, religious and civilisational bonds.

The President said India believes that the enduring trust and mutual understanding between India and Afghanistan goes beyond political and strategic considerations. The two countries’ shared history and geography is a compelling factor in nurturing our close ties. Because of this historical reality, there has been strong and sustained support in India for its engagement with Afghanistan in its post-conflict economic reconstruction effort. India is confident that over the next few years, Afghanistan will see a significant transformation across its sectors and in all areas of its social and economic advancement.

The President said India remains deeply conscious that Afghanistan’s unity, independence, security and stability are critical–not only for itself–but also for India and for peace and progress in entire neighbourhood. To this end, the two country’s strategic partnership looks to strengthen and diversify bilateral engagement in the coming years, by forging a more robust trade and investment relationship between private sectors.