Ambassador Abdali recently met with Mr. Tejendra Khanna, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, exploring opportunities for cooperation between the Government of Delhi and major Afghan cities. “Indeed, opportunities for cooperation are countless, and I am going to do everything I can during my term as Ambassador here to bring our countries and cities even closer in order to achieve our common objectives for regional economic integration,” said the Ambassador. Lieutenant Governor Khanna pointed out the immense potential for regional cooperation bilaterally, as well as through the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

Technical and educational cooperation with the Delhi-based public, private, and non-profit institutions was discussed. Ambassador Abdali sought the Lieutenant Governor’s assistance with the renovation and restoration of major Afghanistan-India cultural monuments of importance to both countries. They also discussed the making of a documentary on these major cultural sites, such as the tomb of Afghanistan’s renowned poet, Mirza Abdul Qader Bidel, buried in Delhi.

Mr. Haidari also accompanied the Ambassador to the meeting.

On October 16, Ambassador Abdali spoke at an event that welcomed 150 Afghan students, who have been admitted to Sharda University for preparatory English courses. Before their placement at various universities, the students would receive lessons in the English language proficiency to better prepare them for their chosen fields, including miming engineering, computer science, architecture, environmental engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and psychology.

The Ambassador thanked the University leadership for the admission of Afghan students, and encouraged the students to make the best of their time at the University to prepare for their continued studies in India. He also extended the gratitude of the Afghan government to India for supporting Afghanistan’s higher education sector that plays an important role in the country’s sustainable development.

The Embassies of Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan recently organized a research and academic seminar to celebrate the 300th death anniversary of renowned Afghan poet Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil at the hall of Center for Information Technology of Jamia Mailia Islamia University in New Delhi.

The seminar began with recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by a speech by Ambassador Shaida M. Abdali on the personality and lifetime achievements of Mirza Abdul Qader Bedil. “We must strive to strengthen human connections and to spread the message of brotherhood and equality, in light of the eternal spiritual thoughts of our past scholars, like the thoughts of Bedil, to the countries of the region and the world,” said Ambassador Abdali.

Other speakers included Tajik Deputy Ambassador, Iranian Cultural Attaché, and First Secretary Abdul Khaliq Rashid, who heads educational affairs at the Afghan Embassy, as well as a number of professors and poets. The second day of the seminar focused on research and academic articles on the works of Bedil by lecturers and scholars from the University of Jamia Milia Islamia, Delhi University, Jawaherlal Nehru University, as well as others.

Deputy Ambassador Haidari represented Afghanistan in the High-Level Policy Dialogue hosted by the United Nations South and South-West Asia Office (UNESCAP) on “Regional Cooperation and Inclusive Development in South and South-West Asia” on October 18-19, 2012 in New Delhi. The Deputy Ambassador met with and thanked the UN Under-Secretary General Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, who also serves as the UNESCAP Executive Director, for the UN’s multifaceted assistance to Afghanistan, particularly for UNESCAP’s recent sponsorship of a weeklong technical training program for members of the Afghan public and private sectors on the acceleration of Afghanistan’s accession to the World Trade Organization. “Without accession to the WTO, Afghanistan can hardly integrate with the global economy, and we hope that UNESCAP will continue to prepare Afghanistan both to accede to the WTO and then to take advantage of the preferential trade and investment benefits granted to the least developed and landlocked countries,” Haidari told the UN Under-Secretary General.

South and South-West Asia have come a long way in the last decade, becoming one of the most dynamic sub-regions in the world. The pressures of faltering demand in developed markets due to a financial crisis, and rising costs in the world’s factory in East Asia, provide a window of opportunity for South and South-West Asia. In the decade ahead, the 10 member States, including Afghanistan and India, of the sub-region have the chance to cooperate among themselves to ensure that not only the sub-region’s growth dynamism and development success is sustained, but also that the sub-region re-emerges as an important crossroad between the East and the West that it once was. UNESCAP released its first South and South-West Asia Development Report 2012-2013 at the above event, which lays out a policy agenda for the sub-region to harness the potential of cooperation in select areas.

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On October 18, 2012, the Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi held a reception, celebrating the 93rd Anniversary of the Independence Day of Afghanistan. The Honorable Salman Khurshid, India’s Union Cabinet Minister of the Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Minorities Affairs, attended the event as the Guest Chief. Moreover, the Honorable Dr. Farooq Abdullah, India’s Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy, and the Honorable Rajeev Shukla, India’s Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, attended the event. The celebration began with the national anthems of Afghanistan and India, followed by exhibition of Afghan artistic works, national dance by India-based Afghan university students, serving of Afghan and Indian cuisines, and screening of photographs of Afghanistan. The event was widely attended by over 300 guests including local Afghans, the diplomatic community, the press, civil society, and friends and supporters of Afghanistan.