Karzai, Singh sign strategic pact
NEW DELHI (PAN): Afghan President Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, pledging a joint front against terrorism, on Tuesday inked a strategic partnership treaty.
Two other deals on mineral exploration and the development of hydrocarbons in Afghanistan were also inked after a meeting between Karzai and Singh on ways of laying the foundation of a strong Indo-Afghan partnership.
"The agreement creates an institutional framework for our future cooperation in the fields of politics, security, trade, economy, capacity building, education, social, cultural and people-to-people relations," said Singh.
Karzai said: "We are also very happy to have signed agreements on (developing Afghan) mineral resources and hydrocarbons. Afghanistan will benefit from Indian expertise."
Describing the relationship with Afghanistan as an open book, Singh said the two countries would jointly combat terrorism. "Our cooperation with Afghanistan is an open book. We have civilisational links, and we are both here to stay. We have to live and work together..."
About his meeting with Karzai, Singh said: "We had detailed and frank discussions on the issue of terrorism. This threatens our entire region, and no country can remain immune to its lethal effects."
The Afghans, who had suffered enough, deserved to live in peace and decide their future themselves, without outside interference, coercion and intimidation, the prime minister added.
"It is in this context that India will participate in the forthcoming conferences in Istanbul and Bonn to contribute to international and regional initiatives to support Afghanistan's efforts at nation building. The greatest need today is for the Afghan people to have peace and stability," he said.
"We have also concluded two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) for cooperation in mining and hydrocarbons. They will add a new dimension to our economic relations.
Afghanistan's economic integration with the Indian economy and South Asia as a whole is in the interest of the people of Afghanistan, and one of the ways to achieve this was to promote closer trade, investment and transit links, he believed.
India stood by the people of Afghanistan in their journey toward capacity building, reconstruction, development and peace, he said, promising: "We will do all that is within our means to help Afghanistan."
Singh once again conveyed sympathy and condolences to the government and people of Afghanistan on recent acts of terrorism, particularly the assassination of Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani.
"Rabbani was our guest in India in July and we were greatly encouraged by his vision. His brutal assassination should serve as an occasion for all of us to strengthen our resolve to jointly confront the menace of terrorism that threatens to undermine the security and stability of our region," he remarked.
Earlier in the day, Karzai met External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on bilateral and regional issues, including terror and ways of intensify economic relations.
Karzai's visit, his second to India this year and the first after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's landmark Kabul trip in May 2011, carries forward the high-level engagement between the two countries.
India is also worried over US troop withdrawal plans from Afghanistan. After the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama decided to pull out 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011, followed by another 20,000 by the summer of 2012 and complete the process by 2014.
Concerned about Pakistan's role, India supports a peace process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and will go all out to ensure that the war-hit country can independently take care of its security.
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