US praises India's role in Afghanistan
Afghanistan's economic stability was one of the major topics of discussion with Indian officials during the just-concluded visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to New Delhi.
"We are making a big push now to …. what we call a Silk Road strategy. And that's essentially to, first of all, help Afghanistan to get on its own two feet economically, so it doesn't need to rely on assistance from the United States and other donors," a State Department official told reporters.
A key part of that strategy would be helping Afghanistan to build up its own infrastructure, he said, recalling Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent visit to Afghanistan.
During the trip to Kabul, Singh pledged fresh aid of $500 million to the impoverished country, bringing the total package of assistance to $2 billion, the official said. "A lot of that is in the infrastructure area."
He said India played a tremendous role all over Afghanistan, building up electricity, roads and all kinds of infrastructure, and of course, capacity-building of the Afghan government.
"A second part of the Silk Road strategy is working to try to give some impetus to a lot of these big regional projects like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline. That's a pipeline that will bring natural gas from Turkmenistan to India primarily, but it will also have benefits for Afghanistan and Pakistan," the official said.
Referring to the recent implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, the official said the two countries agreed to extend that to Central Asia. "We'll be working to help do whatever we can to promote that. I think the Central Asians, from their perspective, very much welcome that…"
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