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Karzai meets Singh; appreciates help

Aziz Haniffa in New York | September 22, 2004 11:46 IST

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai in a meeting with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh expressed appreciation for India's support and assistance for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of his war-ravaged country.

In the more than hour-long meeting, the Afghan president profusely thanked Singh. The meeting took place at the New York Palace Hotel on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session.

Karzai told Singh India is instrumental in 'educating a new generation of Afghan youth', and that India's assistance in the health sector had also been integral in alleviating the infrastructure.

He said that if Afghanistan were to emerge as a stable, prosperous country, India's help would have had no small role in it.

Karzai told Singh that his main objective was to bring about an instutionalisation of democracy in Afghanistan and set up strong institutions. He said the model Afghanistan was following was the 'example of India'.

He also briefed Singh on the impending presidential elections and the challenges and hopes it engendered and that he was 'extremely encouraged by the fact that now almost 10 million voters have registered and about 43 per cent of these registered voters are women voters'.

Karzai said, "This augurs well for a popular, credible election in Afghanistan."

Singh said India was looking forward to 'a strong commitment to the maintenance of national unity and ethnic harmony' during the elections.

The prime minister pledged further support and assistance and assured Karzai that India was committed to 'the stability and reconstruction of Afghanistan' and called on Karzai to inform of any specific needs Afghanistan may have.

Even though no details were discussed, the Afghan president had said it's in education and health sectors that needs continued to be most pressing.

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran who sat in on the meeting said, "There already is a very extensive programme in assistance from infrastructure to health and education."

He also talked about India's help in building a dam in the Herat area, and estimated in the next two to three years, India's assistance could reach upwards of $400 million.

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