Karzai seeks more Indian investment, inks 4 pacts

FP

India and Afghanistan on Monday decided to intensify their cooperation especially in the economic sector. While the visiting Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai pitched for more investments to his country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh mooted the idea of developing a strategic economic partnership.

The PM's idea is an attempt to take forward and built upon the strategic partnership agreement signed between the two countries in October 2011. It also indicates India's desire to have transit rights across Pakistan to connect with Afghanistan.

After holding talks with Karzai, the Prime Minister said, "We discussed the need to develop a strategic economic partnership, which will build on our economic synergies for mutual benefit. I also reiterated our belief that Afghanistan's regional economic integration will contribute to overall prosperity and stability in the region."

Karzai, on his part, said his India visit is to 'request' Indian business to invest in Afghanistan. "Investment opportunities, in Afghanistan, today are better. The country is more confident of its future and it is willing to receive investments from its friends," he said.

The two sides signed four pacts in areas such as small development projects, fertilizers, mines and youth affairs. "We have expanded our programmes for capacity-building, institution-building and human resource development. With the signing of the pacts, we will launch the third phase of small development projects to address the socio-economic needs of people in Afghanistan," Singh said.

Both countries also discussed the changes in the security and political situation in and around Afghanistan. "I expressed our belief that sustained international support and cooperation in all respects, including in combating terrorism emanating from the neighbourhood, will help Afghanistan meet these challenges," Singh said.

Karzai also praised India and called it a "very generous and frontline supporter" for Afghanistan's re-construction and development. "Indian experts are busy rebuilding and reconstructing Afghanistan. India has offered us nearly $2 billion for development. This includes education, health, social development and defence," he said.

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