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Leaders of Afghanistan and India Vow to Deepen Cooperation in Fighting Terrorism

India is funding several infrastructure-related projects in war-ravaged Afghanistan

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Islamic Terrorism worldwide. Wikimedia Commons

The leaders of Afghanistan and India have vowed to continue their joint efforts to “overcome terror and extremism” facing the two nations.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the resolve Monday during a video conference inaugurating the newly-restored Storay (Star) Palace, which is the office of the Afghan president in Kabul.

Lack of proper maintenance and decades of war damaged the nearly century-old building, which is seen as a symbol of Afghanistan’s foreign diplomacy. India’s government funded the nearly $6-million restoration project.

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“Let me assure the people of Afghanistan that in your quest to build a prosperous Afghanistan and to bring peace, security, and stability to your society, the 1.25 billion people of India will always be on your side,” Modi told the video audience.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

India is funding several infrastructure-related projects in war-ravaged Afghanistan. It has poured around $2 billion into Afghan reconstruction efforts, making it one of the largest donors to the war-ravaged nation.

In June, Afghanistan and India inaugurated the nearly $300-million Salma Friendship Dam in western Herat province. New Delhi also funded the construction of a new Afghan parliament building at a cost of $90-million that Ghani and Modi jointly inaugurated last December.

“Friends, Afghanistan is a close friend. Our societies and people have had age-old ties and links. It, therefore, saddens us to see that your proud nation continues to be challenged by externally sponsored instruments and entities of violence and terror,” Modi said in a veiled reference to rival Pakistan.

Afghan leaders allege Pakistani security institutions are covertly supporting the Taliban insurgency to try to retain their influence over affairs of the neighboring country and curtail India’s growing influence in Afghanistan. India also blames Pakistan for being behind terrorist activities on its soil.

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Addressing Monday’s ceremony, President Ghani thanked New Delhi for helping in the Afghan reconstructions efforts, saying it has strengthened historical bonds between the two countries.

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“We are decisive to show that we are ready to spare no effort in protecting peace, overcome terror and extremism and work for the prosperity and happiness of our nations,” vowed the Afghan president.

“This is not only a victory of two nations, Afghanistan and India, but also a victory of friendship over animosity, a victory of cooperation over sabotage, a victory of building over destruction and a victory of wisdom and foresight over superficiality and fanaticism,” Ghani added.

India’s growing ties with Afghanistan have raised concerns in Pakistan. Officials in Islamabad recently accused New Delhi of using Afghan soil for terrorist attacks, particularly in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan. India denies the charges.

India and Afghanistan’s relationship expanded under former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, which strained Kabul’s ties with Islamabad.

After assuming office in September 2014, Ghani took a political gamble by putting distance between Afghanistan and India as a confidence building measure with Pakistan.

But Ghani has publicly complained Pakistan has not reciprocated his overtures, blaming Islamabad for intensified insurgent attacks across Afghanistan.

Pakistan denies Ghani’s assertions and says it is working for peace and stability in Afghanistan because it is linked to Pakistani security and stability. (IANS)

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EU Leaders Agree Making the 28-member Bloc Carbon Neutral by 2050

EU agrees to become carbon neutral by 2050

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EU aims to become carbon neutral by 2050. Wikimedia Commons

BY VISHAL GULATI

European Union leaders meeting in Brussels have agreed to make the 28-member bloc carbon neutral by 2050.

However, coal-reliant Poland has been given time until June to fully endorse the commitment to implement the agreed EU objective.

Climate experts told IANS for the first time the EU leaders, who met in Brussels on Thursday, came out with a time-frame by agreeing to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, thereby opening the way to start a discussion on raising the EU’s 2030 climate target as soon as possible.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who is at the UN climate change conference (COP25), said on Friday that he was encouraged by the fact that the European Union decided to move ahead with its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050.

“This example of #ClimateAction needs to be followed worldwide,” he tweeted.

Carbon Neutral
EU’s top priority is to reduce Carbon Emissions. Pixabay

In November last year the European Commission put forward a proposal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a much needed long-term goal to bring the EU closer to meeting the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement goal and keeping temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Wednesday’s European Green Deal communication indicates that the European Commission will propose a new, substantially increased 2030 climate target by summer 2020.

Now that the net-zero emission goal is endorsed, the EU’s top priority is to adopt a new, increased climate target for 2030 well before next year’s UN Climate Summit, COP 26, in November.

EU leaders invited the European Commission to present a proposal for a new EU 2030 climate target in good time ahead of the UN Climate Conference.

COP26, taking place in Glasgow, is the international deadline by which all parties to the Paris Agreement must submit new and far more ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions targets for 2030.

However, say climate experts, a couple of concessions were negotiated.

Poland has not been ready to fully commit to the implementation of the objective, but has also not blocked the collective endorsement of climate neutrality by 2050.

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Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe Director Wendel Trio told IANS: “Setting a target of net zero emissions by 2050 is a vital and necessary first step to limit the escalating climate crisis.”

“But to jump-start climate action now in line with the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal, the EU needs to increase its target for 2030, not just for 2050.” (IANS)