After meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval over the last two days, the visiting chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah said on Thursday that he was “energised and re-energised” that the Indian leadership was “supportive” of the efforts of the Afghan people to achieve a “dignified, durable, and sustainable peace”.
Abdullah, who arrived in India on Tuesday, met Modi on Thursday, and will meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday. NSA Doval, who met Abdullah on Wednesday, was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Chief Gen M M Naravane, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, and Joint Secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) in the Ministry of External Affairs, J P Singh, among others.
During a speech at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) on Thursday, Abdullah said: “We are counting on your support, your understanding and your continued friendship for a better future between our two nations, and our greater region. During my discussions with (the) Indian leadership here, we were energised and re-energised, that the leadership here is supportive of the efforts of the people of Afghanistan for achieving peace, dignified, durable, sustainable peace.”
He said,“The principle that you have laid the foundation of your foreign policy towards the future of our country – Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled, is welcomed by our people.”
In his virtual address to the inaugural ceremony of the Intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, Jaishankar had “expressed his support for the efforts of the Afghan people, which we are thankful for…”, Abdullah said.
Abdullah expressed gratitude for the support that India has extended “in many ways” to Afghanistan over the past 20 years, including the connectivity projects that were important not just for Afghanistan, India, and Central Asia, but “all across South and Central Asia and Afghanistan all together”. New Delhi’s support for the Turmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, and the projects in Chabahar, Iran, will help the future of the region’s people, he said.
The MEA said that during his meeting with Abdullah, Prime Minister Modi had “reiterated India’s commitment towards sustainable peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and welcomed efforts towards a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan.
“In keeping with the government’s policy of Neighbourhood First, the Prime Minister reaffirmed India’s long term commitment to further deepening the historical ties between India and Afghanistan. The two leaders discussed issues of bilateral and regional interest,” the MEA said. “Dr Abdullah Abdullah briefed the Prime Minister on the Afghan peace process and the ongoing talks in Doha.”
Bilateral issues, including India’s development cooperation with Afghanistan, were also discussed, the statement said. Abdullah appreciated India’s developmental commitment of $3 billion, projects under which are benefiting Afghans across the country’s 34 provinces, it said.
According to the statement, Doval and Abdullah discussed the Afghan peace process and related issues, including “increased levels of violence across Afghanistan and peace and security in the region”.
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