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Afghan, Indian Leaders Discuss Air Cargo, Other Bilateral Issues

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) shakes hands with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani before a meeting in New Delhi, India, Sept. 14, 2016.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia peace conference in Amritsar in India’s northwest Punjab state Sunday to discuss bilateral and regional issues.

Ghani and Modi jointly opened the sixth Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process initiative, which was launched in 2011 to promote Afghan peace efforts.

Reuters news agency reports that foreign ministers and delegates from about 30 countries, including United States, Russia, China and Pakistan, are attending the two-day conference to discuss peace, cooperation and economic development in Afghanistan.

India and Afghanistan are planning to set up an air cargo service to help increase trade that both say has been stymied because of their tense political relations with Pakistan, which lies between them, officials from both countries said Saturday.

The cargo service will aim to improve blocked Afghanistan routes to key markets abroad and boost the growth prospects of its fruit and carpet industries while it fights the Taliban insurgency.