New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday expressed their "firm resolve" to end the menace of terrorism while emphasising that closure of cross-border safe havens and sanctuaries were essential for lasting peace.
The two leaders also "positively assessed" the support extended by India in the defence and security fields, including training of thousands of Afghan defence and security with New Delhi agreeing to extend further assistance depending upon the needs of the Afghan defence and police forces. Detailed discussions were held between the prime minister and the president in one on one format, restricted meeting and a working lunch, a statement by the external affairs ministry said.
The Indian leadership reiterated its support for a negotiated political reconciliation in Afghanistan that is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled, the statement said.
"It was emphasised that renunciation of violence and terror, and closure of cross border safe havens and sanctuaries were essential for any meaningful progress and lasting peace," the MEA statement said.
However, the statement did not name Pakistan. During the wide-ranging talks, deep appreciation was expressed for the bravery with which the Afghan forces were fighting terrorism imposed on Afghanistan.
"The support extended by India in the defence and security fields, including training of thousands of Afghan defence and security personnel was positively assessed. The Indian side agreed to extend further assistance depending upon the needs of the Afghan defence and police forces," it said.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, "Prime Minister Modi and president Ghani discussed range of bilateral, regional and global issues, express firm resolve to end menace of terrorism."
This was President Ghani's fourth visit to India in the last three years and 12th personal interaction between the two leaders, the ministry said. Ghani's visit also assumes significance as it comes ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's talks with Indian leadership on Wednesday.
The U.S. wants India to play a greater role in Afghanistan. Tillerson had also made an unannounced trip to Kabul on Monday and had met the Afghan president. Reiterating their commitment to their strategic partnership, the two sides positively assessed the outcomes of the recent high level bilateral exchanges, including the visits of Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and Foreign Minister Rabbani to India last month and that of the National Security Adviser to Afghanistan last week.
The two sides agreed to further deepen the bilateral strategic dialogue and consultations at all levels in order to achieve the shared objectives, it said. The New Development Partnership that was launched at the meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council on September 11 was assessed as a "significant step" in building upon the highly successful development cooperation of the past 16 years.
The new generation India-assisted projects, including in the fields of health, agriculture, drinking water supply, education, renewable energy, infrastructure development, skill development and capacity building, among others will further contribute to Afghanistan's reconstruction, economic development and effective governance.
The statement said that the two sides agreed that the recent convergence and alignment of views at regional and international arenas have created opportunities for bringing peace, security and stability in Afghanistan.
Issues related to connectivity were discussed in detail with the two countries acknowledging the establishment of the air freight corridor as an important factor in providing Afghan farmers a direct and easy access to the Indian market.
"The efforts for early operationalisation of the Chahbahar Port, including the shipments of wheat in coming weeks to Afghanistan through the Port was considered as a step that would shape new trade and transit opportunities for landlocked Afghanistan," the statement said.
The Indian side reiterated the readiness of its Integrated Check Post at Attari for receiving Afghan trucks carrying goods to and from India.
The two sides agreed to work closely with the regional and international partners; and consult, coordinate and cooperate in various international fora, with the view to further the objective of seeing Afghanistan emerge as a stable, peaceful, united, progressive, prosperous and pluralistic nation. Earlier in the morning, President Ghani met his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind and received the external affairs minister.