New York, Sep 23
Welcoming the international initiative to help Afghanistan in building a self-reliant and sustainable economy, India has said its rapid growth and its large market make it a natural destination for Afghan exports.
Similarly, India can be a cost effective and efficient source for Afghan imports, External Affairs Minsiter S. M. Krishna said at a meeting here on New Silk Road hosted by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and attended by Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
Welcoming the operationalisation of APTAA (Afghanistan Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement), Krishna said: “This could serve as a start for trade and transit through the land route for other countries including India.”
With the onset of the drawdown of foreign security forces and the transition process, it was important that Afghanistan’s growth strategy is built upon the country’s comparative advantage of abundant natural resources and its strategic geographical location, he said.
“These would have to be the building blocks of our vision for Afghanistan as a hub linking Central and South Asia through pipelines, trade and transit routes for the common good of the people of our region and the world,” said Krishna describing the New Silk Road initiative as an important step in that direction.
Noting that India was already undertaking reconstruction and development activities in Afghanistan, with its total bilateral assistance commitment reaching $2 billion, he said: “We have always considered Afghanistan as a South Asian country with natural complementarities and synergies” with other countries in the region.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he noted had articulated his vision for the region much before the idea of a New Silk Road initiative and quoted him as saying: “I dream of a day, while retaining our respective identities, one can have breakfast in Amrtisar, lunch in Lahore, and dinner in Kabul. That is how my forefathers lived. That is how I want our grandchildren to live.”
“The time has come for all of us to start the process of building a better future for the generations to come,” Krishna said.