India, Afghanistan talk terrorism and development

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New Delhi: Terrorism, peace initiatives, and joint partnership ventures dominated talks between Afghanistan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they met in the national capital on September 19 for talks.
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani was in New Delhi for a daylong working visit and held one-on-one as well as delegation level talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“President Ghani briefed the Prime Minister on initiatives by his government towards peace and reconciliation and also in confronting the challenges of terrorism and extremism imposed on Afghanistan and its people,” a formal statement by the MEA said.
It is learnt that there is a divergence of opinion on the composition of the Islamic State militants in Afghanistan—the Afghan government maintains there has been a rise in the number of Islamic State terrorists, Russia and Iran both view them as mostly foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria, while Kabul and Delhi share the view that 70 per cent of the fighters belong to Orakzai in Pakistan.
According to sources, President Ghani suggested that 100-odd Pakistani nationals are identified as orchestrating terror strikes in Ghazni. The recent visit of the new Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi to Kabul also figured in talks today. “They did not see any discernible change in approach to Afghan by the new Pakistan government,” said a government source.
Ghani also told India about its efforts towards peace talks with the Taliban and the next round of unilateral ceasefire. Later while addressing a civic reception organized by the India Foundation, Ghani said: “Why is peace with Taliban important? Because if we arrive at peace with Taliban, we can concentrate on counter terrorism. No matter how long the process goes on for and how much blood is spilt, Taliban are part of our society. Foreigners, members of Daesh, these international networks are different”.
“The Prime Minister reiterated India’s support to an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process,” the MEA statement said.
Prime Minister Modi also raised issue of seven Indian nationals abducted in Baghlan in May. Ghani assured that he was looking into the incident personally and his country was making all possible efforts to ensure the release of all hostages, government sources said. Modi also voiced his sadness at recent killing of Sikh leaders in Afghanistan and President Ghani promised him he was looking at ways to enhance security of the Sikh and Hindu communities.
Meanwhile, India and China will commence the first round of joint capacity building program in Afghanistan—a venture announced after the Modi-Xi informal summit in Wuhan. Afghan diplomats will be trained in batches in Foreign Service Institutes in Delhi and Beijing under an integrated coordinated course starting October. President Ghani also requested India to finalize the Shahtoot dam project, which will supply water to Kabul City as well as help towards irrigation and small power projects in other provinces.

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