Visits Visits

Opening Statement by Prime Minister at the Joint Press interaction in Kabul

May 12, 2011

Your Excellency President Hamid Karzai,
Distinguished representatives of the media,


At the outset, I wish to convey my deep personal gratitude to His Excellency President Hamid Karzai for the warm welcome given to me and for the excellent arrangements that have been made for my stay.

My visit to Afghanistan reflects the commitment of our Government to advance our relations to a new level.

President Karzai and I have reviewed the decisions we took during the President’s visit to India in February this year. Based on this, we have agreed on a Joint Declaration between our two countries.

The Declaration envisages regular political consultations, the establishment of a Strategic Economic Partnership, education and human resource capacity building, people to people exchanges, regional economic cooperation and cooperation in the area of security and law enforcement.

The Strategic Partnership will be implemented under the framework of a Partnership Council which will be headed by the two Foreign Ministers.

I reiterated to President Karzai India’s firm and unwavering commitment to assisting the Government and people of Afghanistan in areas which are of priority and concern to them.

Our development assistance commitment to Afghanistan currently stands at approximately 1.5 billion US dollars spread over several sectors, but there are still gaps. We now have a better idea of where we can and should do more.

We have decided to make a fresh commitment valued at approximately 500 million US dollars over the next few years. This will consist of specific projects and schemes and other initiatives that will be developed in consultation with the Government of Afghanistan.

Broadly, we will increase our focus on the social sector, agriculture, capacity building, access to the Indian market and continue with our infrastructure projects.

We are happy that a growing number of Afghans are finding it worthwhile to travel to India for different purposes. We will facilitate such exchanges, including among the business and trading community. We want to ensure unhindered and across the board interaction among our two societies. This is how it has been throughout our history.

The President shared with me the political processes underway towards reconciliation and plans of the government and people of Afghanistan to assume full ownership of their security and development efforts. India welcomes and supports these efforts. We have experience in the political and security areas which we think is relevant to Afghanistan.

We agreed that India and Afghanistan face a common threat from the scourge of terrorism. In the interest of bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan it is necessary for the countries of the region and beyond to respect Afghanistan’s integrity, sovereignty and independence.

The decisions which Afghanistan takes should be taken in Afghanistan by Afghans.

I have no doubt that good and healthy relations between India and Afghanistan correspond to the basic interests of both our peoples and enjoy widespread support in both countries. Equally importantly, they contribute to peace and stability in the region and beyond.

I have invited President Karzai to visit India. We also warmly welcome visits by other high dignitaries of Afghanistan to India, and I will reiterate our invitations to them when I meet them.

This is a unique moment of transition for Afghanistan. India stands with the people of Afghanistan. We are with Afghanistan for the long term.

I thank you.

Kabul
May 12, 2011



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