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Afghanistan’s Abdullah in New Delhi today as US pushes for stronger trade ties

Abdullah Abdullah to open India-Afghanistan trade fare which is sponsored by a US development agency. The US is keen on India playing a greater role in stabilising Afghanistan.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2017 11:06 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India,Afghanistan,Abdullah Abdullah
Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah begins his week-long India visit on Wednesday. (Vipin Kumar/ HT file photo)

Afghan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah arrives in New Delhi on Wednesday for a week-long visit during which he will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, looking to strengthen business ties between the two countries.

Abdullah, along with finance minister Arun Jaitley and others, will inaugurate an India-Afghanistan trade fair that is sponsored by the United States Agency for international development and is in keeping with US President Donald Trump seeking a bigger economic role for India to stabilise the war-torn country.

Agriculture, education, healthcare and energy are among the key sectors expected to get a boost during the four-day event that begins September 27.

Spelling out his Afghanistan policy in August, Trump invited India to play a bigger role in the country. “India makes billions of dollars in trade from the United States and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development,” he said.

India would not send troops to Afghanistan, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday after a meeting with her visiting American counterpart Jim Mattis but pledged to help the troubled country build infrastructure and stamp out terrorist safe havens.

New Delhi has committed $3 billion for various projects in Afghanistan, where it has built schools, roads and a new parliament building.

Though the trade fair is being held for more than a decade, this time the scale is much bigger, with more than 1,000 firms from both countries expected to take part in the event in Delhi.

Many Indian business leaders have evinced interest in Afghanistan but the security situation has come in the way of the trade ties realising their full potential.

The Indian side see’s Trump’s promise of keeping the US troops in that country as a positive development.

“The goal of this event is to strengthen economic ties between Afghanistan and India through partnerships,” the US embassy said in a statement on Tuesday .

The fair would highlight recently signed agreements, showcase Afghan companies and Indian innovation, and launch a roadmap for future engagement, the statement said.

Along with Abdullah, finance minister Arun Jaitley, special chargé d’ affaires of the US embassy in Kabul Hugo Llorens, chargé d’ affaires of US embassy in New Delhi MaryKay Carlson are expected at the inauguration of the fair.

First Published: Sep 27, 2017 11:05 IST