M A I N   N E W S

No compromise with terrorism: PM
Promises help to Kabul to become democratic
Smita Prakash

Kabul, August 28
Visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday jointly condemned global terrorism as a major threat to democracy and declared that there could be no compromise in dealing with this menace head on.

“We have an obligation to work against terrorism. India will help Afghanistan to become democratic and prosperous,” Dr Singh said, adding that his visit to Kabul was a special one in all respects.

The two leaders issued a joint statement in this regard soon after engaging in one-on-one talks and witnessing the signing of three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs). They were on education, health and agricultural research.

The first is for small development projects in education, health and community welfare, while the second is for healthcare and medicinal science, family welfare and hospital management and the third is for operations in agricultural research and education, which will involve exchange of scientists.

Reiterating their commitment to work together in this regard, both leaders said there was need to change the view that Afghanistan was a safe haven for terrorism and extremism.

The Prime Minister said India and Afghanistan shared a culture and a civilisation. “I have come here to renew old ties and to learn about the heroic efforts that the people of Afghanistan have undertaken to create a new Afghanistan, free of want and exploitation.”

The Prime Minister also reaffirmed India’s continued commitment to Afghanistan and pledged an additional 50 million dollars for developmental projects in the country.

President Karzai said that he was happy to see relations between India and Pakistan improving, and added that improvement of this relationship was more important than all other issues in the region, and is “of special interest to Afghanistan”.

Asked during a joint interaction with the Press about the possibility of direct road transit between the three countries of Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, Mr Karzai said: “The possibility of transit from Afghanistan to India via Pakistan is very real and possible.”

He said that he had had talks in this regard with both President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Afghanistan has a desire, wish and vision to see the creation of a land bridge between the three countries, adding that “ at least for the future generation, there should be this cooperation.”

He further went on to say that all three countries can work together to ensure the prosperity, peace and stability of the region. All three, he said, should have a greater vision than what they seemed to have at present.

Asked specifically for his comments on the menace of terrorism, Mr Karzai said that no other country had suffered as much from terrorism and extremism as had Afghanistan.

He also expressed his country’s desire to be a part of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), saying that in his talks with both General Musharraf and Dr Manmohan Singh, he had received an affirmative response.

Dr Singh today began his historic two-day visit to the war-torn country that has always been strategically important for India.

The visit also has special significance because he is the first Indian Prime Minister in almost three decades to visit the country. The last Prime Minister to visit the country was Indira Gandhi in 1976.

India is already providing aid worth $ 500 million to Afghanistan, most of which has gone into building its infrastructure and social sector, which includes special work in the field of health and education.

New Delhi has also offered Kabul full support in dealing with resurgence of terror from all quarters.

Dr Singh will also meet Afghanistan’s former King Zahir Shah and will witness the laying of the foundation stone for the country’s parliament building.

This very significant building will be constructed by India as a symbol of its contribution to strengthening democracy in the country. — ANI


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