India, Afghanistan focus on connectivity, terror


ISLAMABAD: Amid a spike in violence in Afghanistan, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and discussed enhanced cooperation to combat terrorism and steps to promote connectivity and regional integration.

Accompanied by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and India’s envoys to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mrs Swaraj met Mr Ghani for nearly 30 minutes on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ Conference.

“A Strong Bond of Friendship. EAM Sushma Swaraj calls on President Ashraf Ghani for a bilateral on sidelines of HoA,” India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.  “They reviewed bilateral ties including transit. Discussed terror threat in Afghanistan and status of peace and reconciliation process,” he added. 

The meeting took place against the backdrop of an escalation of Taliban-engineered violence, with the latest attack by suicide bombers at the Kandahar airport renewing concerns about stability in the strife-torn country.  

In his address at the Heart of Asia conference, Mr Ghani highlighted the growing danger of extremism in his country, saying militants groups from the region have moved to Afghanistan and urged the world community to unite to fight this scourge.

India, which has committed over $2 billion in multifarious reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, has a direct stake in stemming the tide of violence in the neighbouring country. During her address at the Heart of Asia Conference, Mrs Swaraj empasised on India’s willingness to help Afghanistan in shoring up its defence capability. She also stated that India’s vision of the Istanbul process is one of interlinked trade, transit, energy and communication routes, with Afghanistan as an important hub. 

Ms Swaraj stressed on the need to combat the menace of terrorism collectively. “It is also the collective duty of all of us to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens in any name, form or manifestation. We, in Afghanistan’s proximity, have a particular responsibility in this regard,” she said.

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