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Strategic ties with Afghan to be strengthened: Manmohan Singh

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday conveyed India’s “unwavering commitment” to assisting Afghanistan in its efforts to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country and hoped the strategic bilateral partnership would be further strengthened in the critical period ahead.

The assurance was given by the Prime Minister when Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul called on him at his residence in New Delhi.

“He (Singh) reiterated India’s unwavering commitment to assisting the government and people of Afghanistan in their endeavour to build a peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous country,” a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said.

Singh welcomed the holding of the first session of the India- Afghanistan Partnership Council and expressed the hope that the strategic partnership between India and Afghanistan would be further strengthened in the critical period ahead.

The Prime Minister conveyed his best wishes to President Hamid Karzai and other leaders of Afghanistan.

On his part, Rassoul expressed his country’s deep appreciation for India’s friendship, generous assistance and the crucial role it is playing in the process of stabilisation, reconstruction and economic development of Afghanistan, the statement said.

Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Rassoul co-chaired the inaugural session of the India-Afghanistan Partnership Council which has been mandated to implement the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by Singh and Karzai in October 2011.

Besides his meeting with Singh, during which they discussed a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest, Rassoul also held parleys with Krishna and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.

Meanwhile, during the first meeting of the India-Afghanistan Partnership Council, the two Foreign Ministers welcomed the holding of the first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Political and Security Consultations.

They decided that the three Joint Working Groups on Trade and Economic Cooperation, Capacity Development and Education, and Social, Cultural, Civil Society and people-to-people contacts will meet at an early date to recommend further steps to deepen and enhance cooperation in their respective fields.

Rassoul welcomed India’s initiative to host a Regional Investors’ Meeting in New Delhi to facilitate investments in Afghanistan.

The Ministers reaffirmed the determination of both the governments to enhance and explore all avenues under the aegis of India-Afghanistan Partnership Council to further strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries, the statement said.

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