New Delhi: India and Afghanistan today inked a pact for visa-free travel by their diplomats following Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi where they discussed ways to further deepen the strategic partnership, both in the bilateral and regional context.
The Prime Minister also expressed deep gratitude to the Afghan Government and its the National Security Forces for their bravery and sacrifice in order to protect Indians living in the strife-torn nation, especially during the attack on the Indian Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif on January 4-5, 2016.
“Prime Minister reiterated India’s commitment to extend all possible support to the efforts of the Afghan people in building a peaceful, stable, prosperous, inclusive and democratic country,” a Prime Minister Office release said.
On his part, the Afghan leader recalled “positively the maiden and successful” visit of Modi to Kabul in December last.
“The visit reenergised the strategic partnership between the two countries,” he told the Prime Minister and appreciated the support being extended by India for infrastructure development and capacity building in Afghanistan. India had given three multi-role Mi-35 helicopters to Afghanistan in December for combating terrorism in the war-torn country.
“An Agreement for visa free travel for diplomatic passport holders of the two countries was exchanged in the presence of the two leaders,” the release added.
Later, the visiting leader held talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during which they discussed the security situation, Afghan peace process, internal political situation in the strife-ravaged country as also the regional security situation, official sources said.
“The two leaders also discussed the role of international community to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and to defeat challenge of terrorism,” sources said.
Swaraj informed Abdullah about India’s efforts to expedite implementation of as many as 92 small developmental projects in Afghanistan that are nearing completion.
The minister also assured Abdullah of government’s help in facilitating participation of a strong Afghan contingent in the 12th SAF games to be held in Guwahati and Shillong.
The Afghan leader’s visit comes nearly a month after Modi’s trip to Kabul during which he inaugurated the new Afghan Parliament building, constructed with India’s aid.
Abdullah, who arrived here yesterday, is in India primarily to attend a conference on counter-terrorism in Jaipur organised by India Foundation in association with Sardar Patel University of Police Security and Criminal Justice. He will leave for Jaipur tomorrow.