News - Afghanistan
After the creation of the National Unity Government (NUG), critics believed India might have been pushed to the margins in Afghanistan's foreign policy stance.
However, President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday dispelled such fears when he delivered a strong message of intent of long term cooperation between Afghanistan and India.
Ghani, who arrived on a three-day state visit Monday night, met with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. Together, the two leaders put flowers on the grave of Mahatma Gandhi, and then went into talks for over two hours with Indian politicians and officials.
In a joint press conference with Modi after the talks, Ghani said that Afghanistan has opened a new page of relations with India and is optimistic about India's efforts with Afghanistan's security.
Modi said that Afghanistan will never be forgotten and that security would only help the country. Military aid, efforts of bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan and the creation of a trade route through to Chabahar port were among the topics mentioned by Modi.
Ghani's trip to India comes at a time when India's concerns mount over its role in the region. Analysts have said that India is ready to equip Afghanistan Security Forces if asked and to help train members in India if needed.
"People of Afghanistan are looking for a peaceful future full of prosperity and they are winning against major challenges. The relations between India and Afghanistan is not only relations between two countries and two governments, but it's about the connection between the hearts of people. We value the values of Afghan people and their good intentions. All the people of India want a stable, peaceful and developed Afghanistan," says Narendra Modi.
"A peaceful and developed Afghanistan is important for the security of the region. We started a new season in our relations 14 years ago. We will continue this route, and of course now with its new president and CEO Abdullah Abdullah. Our commitment is ... a solid commitment," added Modi.
"I announce my support for President Ghani's views on peace and stability in Afghanistan. We have a joint interest in the Afghan-led peace process. This process must be within the framework of Afghanistan's constitution and must be far from the shadow of violence. The social and economic achievements of the past 13 years must not be sacrificed, the rights of all members of society, especially women must be taken into consideration," he said.
"The condition of this process will depend on the strict support from the neighbors of Afghanistan, who have connections with terrorist groups. We consider terror and extremism in Afghanistan, a threat to ourselves as well," says Modi.
"We believe that direct access for Afghanistan to the markets in India and other countries in Central Asia will turn Afghanistan into a central point for connecting Asia and Central Asia. We are ready for Afghan trucks to directly come to India and we welcome them. We are also ready to sign the trade agreement with Afghanistan and Pakistan," added Modi.
"In order to improve the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces, we are pleased to announce our recent donation of three Cheetal choppers to Afghanistan. But it is important for the international community to cooperate with Afghanistan. Indian will always be on your side, shoulder to shoulder," added Modi.
Addressing the media, Ghani said: "Our views today are based on the reality that Afghanistan is the point of connecting Central Asia with the South Asia.
Resources and energy from Central Asia will be imported to South Asia, which will need gas pipes, railways and roads. So we welcome your emphasis on India signing the trade agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan and other countries."
"The creation of a National Unity Government shows the hope of Afghan people for unity. Mr. Prime Minister, our main goal is peace. Because there is the shadow of terror over our children, women and youth, they are not like other people of the world," says Ghani.