India is committed to assisting Afghanistan in its critical period of transition, development and nation-building, President Pranab Mukherjee asserted on Wednesday. He told second Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Karim Khalili that a sovereign, independent, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan was in India’s strategic interest.

Receiving Mr. Khalili at Rashtrapati Bhavan here, Mr. Mukherjee said India was committed to Afghanistan at the political and strategic levels well beyond 2014 when international forces were scheduled to depart. India supported an all-Afghan owned, Afghan-led and Afghan-controlled reconciliation process.

Land of opportunity

Afghanistan had the potential to be a hub of regional trade, transport and energy corridor and a land of opportunity that could contribute to regional economic growth. Indian companies were interested in bidding for copper, gold, oil and gas deposits in Afghanistan.

The President expressed appreciation of the government of Afghanistan, its security services and in particular the police personnel in Jalalabad for the valour and dedication they showed in thwarting the suicide attack on the Indian consulate on August 3. He expressed grief at the unfortunate killing of innocent children and civilians in the attack. India would provide all possible assistance to the victims, he said.

The Afghan Vice-President reciprocated the President’s words, saying relations between Afghanistan and India were of strategic importance and friendship between the two countries would always remain strong. He expressed gratitude for the assistance extended by New Delhi to Kabul and invited Indian companies to invest in Afghanistan, especially in the mining sector.

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