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India will stand as friend and partner, Modi tells new Afghan president

India will stand as friend and partner, Modi tells new Afghan president

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday called up new Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and conveyed to him that India will stand as a friend and partner in Kabul's endeavour to build a strong and prosperous nation.

Ghani, who was sworn in as president on Sep 29, in turn thanked the prime minister for his letter of congratulations sent earlier and "described India as the foundation of Afghanistan's diplomacy and economic strategy".

During the phone call, Modi congratulated the former finance minister and ex-World Bank economist on his election as president of Afghanistan, marking the country's political transition since the US-led coalition ousted the Taliban from power in 2001. Former president Hamid Karzai was in power since 2001.

Modi expressed confidence that President Ghani's "expertise, global experience and grassroots knowledge, borne out of travel to every district of Afghanistan, will help him implement his bold agenda of economic reforms and development in Afghanistan". He said President Ghani's "experience will be beneficial for India and the region", said an official statement.

He lauded Ghani's "wisdom and statesmanship" and his commitment to unity, peace and progress in Afghanistan, which had enabled the formation of a broad-based and inclusive government and a peaceful political transition.

Modi paid tributes to the people and the political leaders of Afghanistan for their faith in democracy and their determination to prevail over violence and terrorism.

Afghanistan, under a power-sharing agreement, has a national unity government that helped end weeks of political bickering following a June 14 runoff presidential election whose results were highly contested. While Ghani is president, the country now has a chief executive in rival, Abdullah Abdullah.

The PMO statement said Ghani accepted Modi's invitation to visit India at the earliest opportunity.

He also suggested immediate commencement of dialogue between the two governments, including between their national security advisors and economic advisors.

"Prime Minister Modi conveyed that India will stand with him as a friend and a partner, at every step on the way, as his government moves forward in its efforts to build a strong, stable, peaceful, democratic, inclusive and prosperous nation," it said.

Modi noted that India's relations with Afghanistan have been forged by ancient cultural links and timeless bonds of mutual affection and admiration, which had grown deeper in recent years as the Afghan people have strived to rebuild their lives and their nation.

Ghani complimented Modi on his electoral success and his "development vision" which, he said, would be beneficial for Afghanistan and the entire region.

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