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‘Peace initiatives in Afghanistan should be led, controlled by Afghans’

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KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday, in which he met with Indian President, Ram Nath Kovind at Presidential Palace of India. Initiatives to bring peace in Afghanistan should be led and controlled by Afghans, President Ram Nath Kovind said while welcoming his counterpart from the neighbouring country, Ashraf Ghani, in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

President Ghani appreciated President Kovind and the Indian people for warm hospitality, saying Afghanistan and India have old relations. He added that common culture between the two states will further deepen relations between Kabul and New Delhi.

President Ghani expressed gratitude to the India for its extensive cooperation in various fields over the years with the government and people of Afghanistan, emphasizing on continuation of good bilateral relations and cooperation.

From his part, Indian President, Kovind “strongly condemned” the recent terror attacks in Afghanistan, including in the provinces of Kabul, Kandahar, Ghazni and Paktia, which have claimed the lives of over 200 people.

Mr. Kovind said India was a victim of state-sponsored, cross-border terrorism for decades and could fully empathise with the ongoing quest of the Afghan people to secure peace.

“India believes that whatever initiatives are taken for bringing peace in Afghanistan should be Afghan-led and Afghan-controlled,” a statement from Rashtrapati Bhavan, quoting the President, said.

Securing sustained peace and security remained the key fundamentals in leading Afghanistan on the pathway of economic recovery and growth. “Unfortunately, mindless and senseless violence is being imposed on the people of Afghanistan,” he said.

Mr. Kovind expressed his admiration of Mr. Ghani for the astute leadership that he had provided to Afghanistan through difficult times and commended him for strengthening bilateral relations between India and Afghanistan.

Recalling Mr. Ghani’s speech at the Heart of Asia Summit in Amritsar in December 2016 and his visit to the Golden Temple, he said that for India, Afghanistan was not just a strategic partner, but a nation that evoked endearing affection.

Strategic partnership

The President said that civilisational links and people-to-people contacts provided a strong foundation to the ever-growing friendship. The two countries have deepened their strategic partnership in recent times, he noted.

The India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show in New Delhi brought the businessmen of the two countries together and generated business worth over $200 million, Mr. Kovind said.

He expressed happiness at the opening of the air freight corridor between Kandahar and Kabul and Delhi and noted that the Afghan cities of Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat were connected directly by air to Delhi. (AT/thehindu)