Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah paid a two-day visit to India as part of US and Afghan efforts to have New Delhi play a greater role in Afghanistan.
Abdullah attended “Passage to Prosperity,” a US-sponsored trade and investment initiative focusing on better regional integration by strengthening Afghan-Indian economic ties.“The relationship between India and Afghanistan is very healthy and forward-looking,” Abdullah told the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) in New Delhi on Friday. New Delhi has signed an agreement with Kabul to train Afghan police. An Indian government statement said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “reiterated India’s commitment to extend full support to Afghanistan’s efforts for building a peaceful, united, prosperous, inclusive and democratic Afghanistan.”
Abdullah was accompanied by around 200 Afghan businessmen and traders, who set up stalls at “Passage to Prosperity” to explore opportunities in India while tapping new markets for Afghan products such as carpets, spices and farm produce.
Entrepreneurs from other fields such as health care, infrastructure and energy also attended the event, seeking support from Indian investors. The biggest space in the investment fair was occupied by people exploring the “traditional Afghan dried-fruit market in India,” dried-fruit seller Nasser Ahmad told Arab News. He expressed hope that the air corridor established between India and Afghanistan “will facilitate the transportation of dried and fresh fruit from Kabul at a reasonable price.”
Abdullah said the Afghan national unity government is open to talks with the Taliban, telling Arab News: “We want a dignified peace, and the group that wants to talk to us should give up links with terror networks, work for their own country and contribute to the wellbeing of our people. This is our hope, and based on that we’ve kept the door open for talks and negotiations.”
Ahmad, accompanying Abdullah, said: “Instability isn’t going away from Afghanistan anytime soon, and we have to find ways to live a life and carry on with our business.” – Agencies