Prime Minister Modi received a warm embrace and welcome by Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in Kabul where he arrived on Friday for delegation-level bilateral talks and for inaugurating the new Afghan Parliament building.
Calling India and Afghanistan’s friendship antiquated and “bound by a thousand ties”, Ghani thanked India for its “valuable assistance” as Afghanistan weathers “hard times”.
“Pleased to welcome PM Modi to Kabul. Though, India & Afghanistan need no introduction, we are bound by a thousand ties… We have stood by each other in the best and worst of times,” Ghani tweeted.
Delegation-level bilateral talks between the two countries were held at Dilkosha Palace, the Afghan presidential office.
Modi later inaugurated the Afghan parliament building that was constructed by India at a cost of USD 90 million. The Prime Minister also addressed the two houses.
Ghani and Modi toured the parliament building and arrived at the main session hall in the presence of the guests, including member of the Afghan parliament, Khaama press reported.
Past & Future. On 1 side the Dar ul Aman palace bombed out by Taliban. On the other the shining new Parliament bldng pic.twitter.com/q0dlcZMJ0N— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) December 25, 2015
Built by India but nurtured by Afghanistan's indomitable faith in its future. PM arrives at the Afghan Parliament pic.twitter.com/WQfl7tic4Q— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) December 25, 2015
“It will stand as an enduring symbol of the ties of emotions and values, of affection and aspirations that bind us in a special relationship,” the prime minister said.
“The great Afghan people waged an epic struggle of courage and resolve to shape their future with vote and debate and not gun and violence.”
Modi said he stands on behalf of “1.25 billion friends in India in admiration for your achievements and in gratitude for your friendship.”
He said the day was special as it was former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday, adding he was “deeply touched” that a block in the new building was named ‘Atal block’.
The Parliament building project, initially conceived to cost 45 million, was started by India in 2007 as a mark of friendship and cooperation to help rebuild Afghanistan.
“Deepening India-Afghan friendship. PM & President lead delegation level talks over breakfast at Dilkosha Palace,” external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted.
Prior to Modi’s visit, India delivered three Mi 25 attack helicopters to Afghanistan, in what is seen as a shift in its strategy towards the strife-torn country.
Defence sources said that three such choppers have already been delivered to the Afghan government, which will boost its capability against Taliban terrorists.
Earlier in the day, Modi was received by the Afghan national security adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar and deputy foreign minister Hekmat Karzai when he landed in Kabul. Modi is visiting the capital city on his way back to New Delhi from Moscow, where attended the 16th annual India-Russia summit.
“From Russia to Afghanistan. A pre-dawn arrival in Kabul begins a day of engagements with another dost,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
On his arrival Modi said, “Delighted to be in Kabul among friends. Will meet Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai”.
Modi will be holding talks with Afghan leaders on key bilateral issues, including security co-operation and discuss the ways to help war-torn country where India has committed over two billion assistance.