India will stand by the Afghans: Mukherjee
NEW DELHI(PAN): Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said his country was prepared to increase bilateral contribution to institution-building, training and equipment to the extent India could for Afghanistan.
Mukherjee told visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai that India was proud to help, a statement from Mukherjee's office said.
The Indian leader said his country would stand by the government and the people of Afghanistan in the critical period of transition, development and nation-building.
The President said "we should strengthen and deepen India-Afghanistan relations in all areas as prescribed in the Strategic Partnership Agreement".
A 2011 strategic partnership agreement between the two countries includes Indian training of Afghan security forces. Small batches of Afghan soldiers are undergoing training at Indian military schools.
India has invested more than $2 billion in Afghan infrastructure, including highways and hospitals and rural electricity projects. It is also helping the Afghan government rebuild its police forces, judiciary and diplomatic services.
Karzai, who earned his college degree in India, has visited New Delhi more than a half dozen times in the past few years.
He held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussing the situation in the region in the backdrop of Afghanistan's keenness to enhance defence cooperation with India.
"The visit is indicative of the strong and close relations that we have with Afghanistan and the frequent contacts between the senior leaders of the two countries," the spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs had said ahead of Karzai's visit.
When asked about Afghanistan Ambassador Shaida M Abdali to India's demand for an enhanced bilateral defence cooperation and supply of lethal and non-lethal military equipment, the spokesperson said India was ready to discuss and consider Afghanistan's request for arms supplies, as and when raised.
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