December 12, 2013

On December 12, H.E. President Karzai arrived in India at the invitation of the Indian government to meet with the country’s leadership and discuss issues of bilateral strategic interest and concern.

During his 14th visit to India President Karzai was accompanied by the Acting Foreign Minister H.E. Zarar Ahmad Osmani, the National Security Adviser Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Acting Minister of Commerce and Industries Mr. Shaker Kargar, Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Ershad Ahmadi and some other senior officials.

On December 13, the Honorable External Minister Salman Khurshid and the National Security Adviser called on H.E. President Hamid Karzai.  Later that day the Afghan President met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and in the evening joined H.E. President Pranab Mukherjee for a private dinner hosted at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The meetings involved in-depth strategic discussions and consultations on the progress in the implementation of the strategic partnership agreement and other bilateral, regional and global issues.

In his meeting with the Indian Prime Minister, President Karzai briefed Mr. Manmoham Singh on the status of the transition process in Afghanistan and the country’s relations with other countries.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed confidence in the ability of the Afghan nation to work for a strong, united, stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan which is the key to regional peace and prosperity.  Mr. Singh reiterated his country’s commitment to supporting Afghanistan through the transition process and beyond.  Both leaders emphasized the need for further intensified effort for strengthening regional cooperation, including through the Heart of Process.

In line with their shared vision for a secure and peaceful Afghanistan and region the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to furthering their intensified cooperation in all areas, in light of the two countries’ Strategic Partnership Agreement.  Prime Minister reiterated India’s continuing support for the socio-economic development of Afghanistan through promotion of businesses, educational scholarships, and implementation of Indian assisted development and reconstruction projects. The two leaders also agreed to work with the Islamic Republic of Iran for development of new trade routes through Chabahar port to facilitate trade and transit to Afghanistan and beyond.

The bilateral talks also focused on the deepening of defence and security cooperation, including through training and meeting the equipment and infrastructure needs of Afghanistan National Security and Defence Forces.  The bilateral cooperation in this area aims increasing operational capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces.  The two leaders also agreed to expand opportunities for higher military education in India for Afghan officers.

The Afghan President also attended an interactive meeting with members of media community and prominent Think Tanks based in Delhi on December 14th.

Welcoming the participants to the meeting and appreciating the importance of their role in the modern world President Karzai briefed them on his visit to India, including the meetings he had conducted.  Subsequently, the Q and A part of the meeting started which lasted almost for 90 minutes.

The questions mainly focused on the issues related to Afghanistan-US BSA, Afghanistan – India cooperation in the areas of defence, and peace talks with the opposition groups.

In response to a question about reports by media on Afghanistan- India relations, President Karzai said “the relationship between the two countries is not what is being portrayed by media, it enjoys a unique nature, and our talks involve deep strategic consultations on all issues of common interest and concern.”

Answering a question on cultural relations between the two countries the Afghan President requested the members of the media community to convey a message from him to the Afghan student in India saying that “great achievements in life are hard to earn, no good academic achievement comes easy.”

Subsequent to the interactive meeting the Afghan President left for Pune where he was scheduled to attend a business session and deliver a lecture at Symbiosis University.

The business session organized jointly by ASSOCHAM, Confederation of Indian Industry and FICCI took place in the evening of December 14th, and was attended by 65 members of the business community.

Later that evening President Karzai attended a dinner hosted by Symbiosis International University (SIU).  Seated at the table with the Afghan President were the Honorable Governor of Maharashtra Shri Kateekal Sankranarayanan, Chancellor of Symbiosis International University Dr. S.B. Majumdar, as well as 13 high level officials of some South Asian, African and Gulf countries.

On December 15th, the Afghan President attended an international conference titled “India and Development Partnerships in Asia and Africa: Towards A New Paradigm” held at Symbiosis International University where he addressed the keynote.  Among the participants of the conference were Honorable Foreign Minister of Bhutan H.E. Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje, Vice Minister for Finance of Mozambique H.E. Pedro Conceicao Couto, Minister of Education and Scientific Research of Burundi, Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Tanzania, Chairman of DM Group in Dubai, Dr. Azad Moopen, Chairman of Oman-India Business Council, as well as the high level delegation accompanying the Afghan President.

Later that day, the Afghan President addressed an interactive session with international students at Symbiosis Vishwabhavan Auditorium.  The session was attended by some of the high level officials of the said countries Chancellor of the university, President of the International Student’s Council, Executive Director of Symbiosis Centre for International Education, SIU, as well as 600 international students including 250 Afghan students.

With this session the official visit of H.E. President Karzai to India ended.

India is also to host the next Heart of Asia Senior Officials Meeting on January 17th, 2014 in.

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