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India committed to economic reconstruction of Afghanistan: Swaraj

India on Sunday said that it was committed to the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan and to promote an inclusive “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled” peace and reconciliation process in the war-torn country.

India’s position was enunciated by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the historic India-Central Asia Dialogue here, with the participation of Afghanistan, which focussed on a plethora of regional issues including enhancing connectivity to the country ravaged by terrorism.

“I would like to specifically point out that our region is facing serious challenges posed by terrorism. India, Central Asia and Afghanistan are societies which are tolerant and plural. The ideology of hate which the terrorists would like to spread has no place in our societies,” Swaraj said while addressing the first session of the dialogue.

“We also need to ask that who these terrorists are, who funds them, how do they find sustenance, who protects and sponsors them,” she said.

“No business development, no investment can take place in a country suffering from terrorism. To promote business development in our region, we agreed to fight the scourge of terrorism together,” Swaraj said, adding that terrorism seriously erodes all avenues of development which a country can have.

Development partnership has emerged as an important component of India’s engagement with Afghanistan.

The minister offered to extend this partnership to Central Asia as well, where India can bring countries closer by taking up concrete projects under the lines of credit and buyers’ credit, and by sharing its expertise.

She said that more efficient connectivity will lead to the full realisation of the growth potential of the region. “We are geographically close and, in terms of air connectivity, only about three hours away,” she said adding the time has come to develop more efficient transit routes, as well as to better utilise existing opportunities and find innovative solutions.

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