India and Afghanistan committed to deepening economic and trade relations

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India and Afghanistan have decided to deepen their economic and trade ties despite uncertainties about reaching a political settlement to the lingering conflict in the war-torn country.

During a three-day visit to New Delhi, Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar said President Ashraf Ghani was ready to consider early presidential elections, four years before the end of his second five-year term, to put in place a new government if the rebel Taliban were ready to agree to participate in the elections. Ghani is due to unveil the proposal at a meeting in Turkey next month, one of many such meetings scheduled to discuss peace in Afghanistan. Ghani’s proposal runs counter to that put forward by the new Biden administration, which plans to set up an interim government in Afghanistan.

Despite the twists and turns in the process, Atmar said trade ties with India will continue.

“We will continue to work with India on our trade and economic cooperation regardless of the peace process,” Atmar told reporters at a press conference in New Delhi. “It has been around for millennia and will be. We will make sure it happens in a more efficient and beneficial way,” he said.

India has invested more than $ 3 billion in economic stabilization in Afghanistan, reconstruction and relief work since 2001, when US-led troops ousted the Taliban from Kabul. Nearly two decades later, the United States must leave Afghanistan, as Washington struck a deal with the Taliban to which the Afghan government was not a party in February last year. India strongly supported Ghani’s government. In an effort to stabilize Afghanistan economically, India is accelerating the development of the port of Chabahar in Iran, which will result in the landlocking of Afghanistan and Central Asia using the Iranian port to trade with the ‘India and other countries.

The two countries also agreed to form “specialized working groups in various fields in order to strengthen economic and development cooperation and to monitor planned projects at the technical level,” said a statement from the Afghan embassy.

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