Modi calls for end to terrorism, opens new Afghan parliament (Roundup)

Kabul, Dec 25 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called for an end to cross border terrorism while inaugurating a new parliament building in this South Asian nation here.

Without naming Pakistan, Modi said in an address to the parliament here: “Afghanistan will succeed only when terrorism no longer flows across the border; when nurseries and sanctuaries of terrorism are shut and their patrons are no longer in business.

“Terror and violence cannot be the instrument to shape Afghanistan’s future or dictate the choices Afghans make,” he said.

Modi reached Kabul in the wee hours of Friday while on his way back from a two-day visit to Russia.

He, along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, inaugurated the new Afghan parliament building that has been constructed with Indian assistance of $90 million. One block of the building has been named after former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“Bahut dhanyavaad India 4 giving us a new house of democracy. Its a testimony to our unyielding friendship,” Ghani stated in a tweet.

In his address, Modi said that there were “some who did not want us to be here”.

“There were those who saw sinister designs in our presence here. There are others who were uneasy at the strength of our partnership. Some even tried to discourage us.”

He said that “those waging war from outside must seek a path to this building and this hall”.

The Indian prime minister said that Afghanistan’s success would require the cooperation and support of each of its neighbours.

“And, all of us in the region – India, Pakistan, Iran and others – must unite, in trust and cooperation, behind this common purpose and in recognition of our common destiny,” he said.

Modi also expressed the hope that Pakistan would “become a bridge between South Asia and Afghanistan and beyond”.

Stating that nothing was more important for a nation than its human resources, he announced 500 Indian scholarships for children of security personnel who have died.

A joint statement issued after a meeting between Modi and Ghani said that Afghanistan needed to eliminate terrorism perpetrated from “sanctuaries and safe havens” for peace while identifying terrorism, narcotics and extremism as “serious challenges”.

“Strongly condemning the barbaric incidents of terrorism in Afghanistan in recent months, the two leaders reiterated that peace in Afghanistan required elimination of terrorism perpetrated and supported from sanctuaries and safe havens,” the statement said.

Modi, meanwhile “reiterated India’s full support to Afghanistan for strengthening its defensive capabilities for preserving Afghanistan’s unity and territorial integrity and ensuring security”.

The Mi-25 choppers India is giving to Afghanistan were also mentioned in the statement, and both sides agreed to expand training opportunities for Afghan security and defence forces.

“…The two leaders pointed out that the Mi-25 helicopters provided by the Indian government to Afghanistan and their maintenance facility would address an important requirement”.

Modi also thanked Afghan authorities for ensuring the safety of the Indian embassy in Kabul, the four consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif, and Indian nationals in Afghanistan, including those working on various development projects.

Earlier, after Modi reached Kabul, Ghani tweeted: “India and Afghanistan enjoy a friendship that dates back to antiquity. We have stood by each other in the best and worst of times.”

The two leaders had delegation-level discussions over breakfast.

After his address to Parliament, Modi met Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai.

He also interacted with Indian aid workers in Afghanistan, personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), and embassy officials.

In the afternoon, he left for Lahore where he will meet Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a brief stopover.

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