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Prime Minister’s statement at the Media Interaction during State Visit of President of Afghanistan

New Delhi: November 12,2012

Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s statement at the Media Interaction during State Visit of President of Afghanistan in New Delhi today:

“It is my great pleasure to welcome President Hamid Karzai and his high-level delegation to India.

President Karzai is no stranger to India. He has long been a close friend of our country and a steadfast supporter of India-Afghanistan relations. We admire his leadership of Afghanistan through a critical period of more than a decade, during which Afghanistan has made significant progress despite multiple challenges. I therefore consider it a special privilege to be able to receive him in Delhi on a State Visit.

We had detailed and frank discussions today covering the entire spectrum of our bilateral relations, as well as the challenges confronting the region. We reaffirmed our shared vision of a stable, strong, united, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan. We reviewed progress in the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement during the past year and reaffirmed our commitment to deepen our cooperation in accordance with the vision outlined in the Agreement.

President Karzai and I agreed to intensify our cooperation with a special focus on deepening our economic engagement in areas ranging from agriculture and small businesses to mining and infrastructure.

We discussed the need to develop a strategic economic partnership, which will build on our economic synergies for mutual benefit. I also reiterated to President Karzai our belief that Afghanistan’s regional economic integration will contribute to overall prosperity and stability in the region.

India remains committed to supporting Afghanistan in its development efforts. Our development assistance commitment to Afghanistan currently stands at approximately 2 billion dollars. We have expanded our programmes for capacity-building, institution-building and human resource development. With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding today, we will launch the Third Phase of Small Development Projects to address the socio-economic needs of people throughout Afghanistan.

We also discussed the changes in the security and political situation in and around Afghanistan. I expressed to President Karzai our belief that sustained international support and cooperation in all respects, including in combating terrorism emanating from the neighbourhood, will help Afghanistan meet these challenges. President Karzai’s own enlightened leadership will play a big part in this effort.

The natural bond between India and Afghanistan is based on several millennia of engagement between our peoples. India supports the nation-building efforts of Afghanistan, especially in the areas of governance, security and development. We also support efforts to achieve a lasting peace in Afghanistan that brings together all sections of Afghan society while preserving the achievements of the last decade, including in the area of women’s rights. We respect the choices that the Afghan people make of their own free will.

I am confident President Karzai’s present visit will further strengthen the excellent relationship between our two countries. I once again convey my personal good wishes to President Karzai as he leads his country through a challenging time and wish to assure him that India stands with him and the people of Afghanistan. “


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