: International News
India is ready to partner Afghan people: PM
Kabul, May 14, 2011
India and Afghanistan face "similar
development challenges" and India is ready to "partner the
Afghan people" as they rebuild their country, visiting Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday.
"Our two countries face similar development challenges, India
is ready to partner the Afghan people as they rebuild their
country in accordance with their own priorities and national
circumstances," said the prime minister while addressing the
joint session of the Afghanistan parliament.
"Many of Afghanistan's priorities are also our priorities.
Many of your problems are also our problems," he added.
"We fully support the vision of a secure, prosperous and
democratic future for Afghanistan outlined in the National
Priority Programmes initiated by the government of
Afghanistan," said Manmohan Singh, who is visiting the country
after six years.
Saying that he was "humbled by the gesture of love and
affection for India" by according him a "rare honour" given to
a foreign leader to address the joint session of the
parliament, the prime minister highlighted the long cherished
relationship between the two countries since many millennia.
"I have come to Afghanistan to renew these ties of friendship,
solidarity and fraternity. This is the only agenda that I have
come with. This is the only agenda that the people of India
have in Afghanistan," said Singh, who is the first foreign
head of state to stay at the personal suite of former Afghan
king Zahir Shah in the Presidential Palace, since the fall of
Manmohan Singh said the two countries have to "build a common
regional identity and to learn more about each other."
"We have agreed to reinvigorate our relationship in all
sectors on the basis of mutual respect and mutual equality.
This will be a long-term partnership. Its main pillars will be
greater political interaction, a comprehensive economic
partnership, a trade development strategy, a social
development strategy, an agricultural outreach strategy, a
cultural development strategy, and a civil society strategy,"
The prime minister said that India would be "happy" to
strengthen and invest on infrastructure, architecture, culture
and health, including providing better health facilities for
children, to provide more scholarships to students studying in
India and to provide more buses for Kabul and other provinces.
"Building infrastructure is another challenge. We have tried
to provide such assistance as we could to provide electricity
and roads in Afghanistan," he added.
"The people of India feel privileged to see their development
cooperation receive such a warm welcome in Afghanistan.
Nothing would give us greater satisfaction than to see Indian
resources being utilized for more roads, more electricity,
more schools, more hospitals or more community projects -
activities that directly benefit the common Afghan people,"
said the prime minister, who is returning home later Friday.