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Posted at: Jun 19, 2017, 7:34 PM; last updated: Jun 19, 2017, 9:37 PM (IST)

Afghan Prez inaugurates first air corridor with India, bypassing Pak

Afghan Prez inaugurates first air corridor with India, bypassing Pak
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during the opening of the first Afghan-India air corridor ceremony in Kabul on June 19, 2017. AFP

Kabul/New Delhi, June 19

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday inaugurated the first Afghanistan-India air corridor during a ceremony at the Kabul International Airport — a direct route that bypasses Pakistan and is meant to improve commerce.

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The air freight corridor will give a fillip to the trade relations between the two countries and give landlocked Afghanistan a greater access to markets in India. It will also benefit Afghan farmers by giving them a quick and direct access to the Indian markets for their perishable produce.

A cargo flight later in the day landed from Kabul to New Delhi, marking the inauguration of the dedicated air freight corridor, a decision taken in a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ghani in September 2016.

Modi said the direct (air freight) connectivity between India and Afghanistan will “usher prosperity”.

“I thank President @ashrafghani for the initiative,” Modi tweeted.

The flight was flagged off by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the presence of several Afghan Cabinet ministers and India’s ambassador to Afghanistan Manpreet Vohra.

In Delhi, the flight, carrying 60 tonnes of cargo, mostly asafoetida (hing), was received by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Civil Aviation Minister Gajapathi Raju, Minister of State in the MEA M J Akbar and Afghan envoy to India Shaida Abdali.

During his visit to India in September 2016, Ghani had urged Indian and Afghan businesses to achieve a target of $10 billion in trade over the next five years.

The ministry also eased its visa regime for Afghan business-persons, apart from increasing the duration of stay for Afghan tourists and patients since February this year.

Presently, there are four to five flights operating daily between Afghanistan and India, bringing nearly 1,000 Afghans, many of them for medical treatment in Indian hospitals.

India has been closely working with Afghanistan to create alternate and reliable access routes for the landlocked country.

In January 2015, India had announced its decision to allow Afghan trucks to enter the Indian territory through Attari land check-post for offloading and loading goods from and to Afghanistan.

India is also working with Afghanistan and Iran for development of the Chabahar Port. A trilateral transport and transit agreement based on sea access through Chabahar was signed between the three countries in Tehran in May 2016.

Currently major exports from India to Afghanistan are man-made filaments, apparels and clothing accessories, pharmaceutical products, cereals, man-made staple fibres, tobacco products, dairy and poultry products, coffee, tea,meat and spices.

Major imports from Afghanistan to India are fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, raisins, vegetables, oil seeds, precious, semi-precious stones.

 

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