India’s commitment to Afghanistan unshaken: Mukherjee

February 15th, 2008 - 9:55 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) India Friday underlined its commitment to closer ties with its neighbours and reiterated its determination to continue with its help in rebuilding Afghanistan despite the deteriorating security situation in that country. “India is engaged in the task of re-building Afghanistan in a deteriorating security situation,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the consultative committee of parliament for external affairs Friday.

“The situation in Afghanistan is a matter of concern,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna quoted Mukherjee telling the parliamentary panel.

Sarna dismissed reports in a section about the media about any intention on the part of India to withdraw its workers from Afghanistan due to the escalation in the Taliban-led violence.

Over 4,000 Indians are engaged in a slew of activities relating to the construction of various infrastructure projects in Afghanistan. Early this year, a suicide attack in Nimroz province killed two Indians which prompted India to review security of Indians working in Afghanistan.

The suicide attack came barely three weeks after the Indian cabinet approved over $180 million for building the strategic Zaranj-Delaram road that would provide India better access to Central Asia and open up an alternate route for the landlocked Afghanistan to an Iranian port.

India has pledged $850 million for the reconstruction of Afghanistan that makes New Delhi the fifth largest donor in that country.

In his comments before the parliamentary panel, Mukherjee provided an overview of India’s policy towards the neighbourhood and underlined New Delhi’s view of South Asia as an integrated region that should spur a free flow of goods, service and ideas among countries of the region.

Mukherjee briefed panel members on India’s relations with all South Asian neighbours, specially Pakistan, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Responding to questions about India’s relations with China, the minister alluded to the vision document for India-China relations in the 21st century that was unveiled during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China. Referring to the Chinese protest about Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, Mukherjee reiterated that Arunachal is an integral part of India and the prime minister has a right to visit any part of the country.

He also underlined India’s willingness to help Nepal as it embarks on the critical transition towards democracy and articulated New Delhi’s support for a stable, democratic and prosperous Nepal.

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