NEW DELHI —
On a visit to India, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called for greater regional cooperation to fight terror. India has committed to boosting road and sea links with Afghanistan to promote trade with the war torn country.
Ghani says Afghanistan will “not be beaten into submission" and he is determined to make his country “the graveyard of terror."
He spoke after talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
But the Afghan leader emphasized rooting out terror requires greater regional cooperation.
His remarks came against the backdrop of concerns expressed by some Indian political observers about the new Afghan leader’s outreach to New Delhi’s archrival, Islamabad.
“We are determined to change the regional nature of cooperation,” said Ghani. "Against all forms of violence, what is essential is that the state system in the region rises to a new understanding. Terror cannot be classified into good and bad, it cannot be differentiated. We must have a unified approach, we must be united both in the region and globally to contain this phenomenon.”
The Afghan leader's arrival in India was briefly delayed as heavy fighting broke out between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents in Kunduz province.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged India’s support for Afghanistan’s fight against extremists and said New Delhi would help build the capacity of Afghan forces. India has been helping train Afghan soldiers.
Modi also said India is committed to moving forward on developing the Chabahar Port in Iran, which would not only give New Delhi vital access to Afghanistan, but also give land locked Kabul an alternate to its only existing access to the sea via Pakistan. He said India is also ready to join a bilateral trade and transit agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which would allow goods from Afghanistan to move to India via road.
“We believe that Afghanistan’s direct surface link to India and the rest of South Asia and increased connectivity through sea could turn Afghanistan into a hub that connects Asia’s diverse regions and beyond,” said Modi.
Modi also committed to strengthening India’s development partnership with Afghanistan in areas like infrastructure, agriculture and community projects.
During the past 15 years, India has spent $2 billion building roads, schools and on other infrastructure projects across Afghanistan.
India's friendship with Afghanistan has deepened in recent years, but some analysts cite the growing ties between Kabul and Islamabad under the new Afghan leader as a sign of New Delhi's waning influence.