India, Tajikistan to combat terror, cooperate on Afghanistan (Lead)

September 4th, 2012 - 12:01 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) India and Tajikistan, an energy-rich Central Asian nation, Monday decided to upgrade their ties to a strategic partnership and agreed to intensify counter-terror cooperation and work closely to stabilise Afghanistan in view of the withdrawal of international troops from the violence-torn country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues and decided to upgrade their growing ties to the level of a strategic partnership.

After the talks, the two sides signed four pacts to intensify their collaboration in areas of health, education, sports and culture.

The volatile situation in Afghanistan and the prospects of cooperation in the wake of the phased withdrawal of international combat troops by 2014 figured prominently in the discussions, said informed sources.

In this context, the two countries decided to deepen counter-terror cooperation as they both are opposed to a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

“President Rahmon and I exchanged views on the situation in the Central Asian region and beyond, particularly in the context of the security transition in Afghanistan. We also agreed to deepen our counter-terrorism cooperation,” said Manmohan Singh.

“The two sides discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the challenges emanating from the region, including the existence of safe havens and sanctuaries for terrorism and drug trafficking, and reaffirmed the importance of sustained peace and stability in the country, particularly, in the context of the proposed withdrawal of ISAF forces in 2014 from Afghanistan,” said a joint statement after the talks.

“The two sides stressed that the issue of restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan was inseparably linked with regional security. The sides emphasized the need to promote the process of restoration of peace in Afghanistan with participation of all sides concerned,” said the statement.

“They stressed the need to work jointly towards eliminating the menace of terrorism including exchange of information, data, financing of terrorism and related matters. They emphasised the need for enhanced dialogue between security agencies,” said the statement.

In an oblique reference to Pakistan, India and Tajikistan “called for the active prosecution of the authors of such crimes and their accomplices, and urged that they be brought to justice expeditiously”.

India sought to intensify developmental partnership by unveiling a host of gift for the hydro-power rich nation, including the setting up of an IT Centre of excellence, an e-network including tele-education and tele-medicine, medical centres and language laboratories.

It also pledged to set up a fruit and vegetable processing plant and an Entrepreneurship Development Institute, and agreed to provide agricultural machinery.

India also announced that it will enhance the number of training slots for Tajik nationals from 100 to 150 slots annually under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation training programme.

Describing Tajikistan as “a key partner of India in the Central Asian region”, Manmohan Singh announced that in view of the broad progress made in bilateral relations, particularly in defence and security cooperation, the two sides “should elevate our relations to a strategic partnership”.

The two countries also decided to bolster trade and investment, with India conveying support for an “an early accession of Tajikistan to the WTO”.

“We also discussed opportunities for investments in free economic zones in Tajikistan. We hope to send a delegation from the private and public sectors to explore investment opportunities in these zones.”

“Information technology, e-connectivity, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, textiles, leather goods, mining and renewable energy are some of the areas with high potential,” he said.

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