India said that it would like to pursue more collaborative projects with China in war-torn Afghanistan as the first batch of 10 Afghan diplomats started the second phase of their joint training program at the China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU) in Beijing on Monday after having undergone a similar training in New Delhi from October 15-26.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the second phase of the China-India Joint Capacity Building Program for Afghan Diplomats in Beijing, Acquino Vimal, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian Embassy in China, expressed hope that both the countries will be able to undertake more joint ventures in Afghanistan in the coming months, in line with the “China-India Plus” cooperation plan agreed upon by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi following their informal Wuhan summit this April.
Wang Fan, vice president of the CFAU, Beijing; Mardan Ali Qasemi, Charge d’ Affaires, Embassy of Afghanistan in China; and Hou Yanqi, deputy director general of the Department of Asian Affairs, MFA, also attended the launching ceremony for the second phase of the joint program.
“We are hopeful that in the months to come we will be able to identify more specific projects which can be jointly done by Indian and Chinese governments for the benefit of Afghanistan as desired by the government and people of Afghanistan,” Vimal said.
A group photo of Afghan diplomats and Indian and Chinese officials at the launching ceremony for the second phase of their joint training program at the CFAU, Beijing, November 19, 2018.
The Indian envoy affirmed New Delhi’s commitment in Afghanistan’s efforts to emerge as a united, peaceful, secure, stable, inclusive and economically vibrant nation, saying that in the last 17 years India has contributed a grant of 3 billion U.S. dollars for the development of Afghanistan.
“These are particularly in the areas of building infrastructure, development of human resources, enhancing connectivity and promoting trade and investment links. Most of these major development projects have been completed over the years,” he said.
“India and Afghanistan are close neighbors as well as strategic and development partners. All the efforts of India as a development partner of Afghanistan has been based on the priorities set by the government and the people of Afghanistan. This has been our fundamental basis for any development partnership,” Vimal told the gathering.
Amid reports of an Uzbek-Afghan rail link project that could also see both Beijing and New Delhi collaborate, the joint training program for Afghan diplomats has effectively set into motion the China-India Plus cooperation.
“Earlier this year, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had multiple meetings and reached an important understanding on China-India Plus cooperation. They identified Afghanistan as a priority partner and agreed to start by jointly training Afghan diplomats,” Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a message read out by Luo Zhaohui, Chinese Ambassador to India, at the launching ceremony for the joint program last month at the Indian Foreign Service Institute (IFSI) in New Delhi.
Hailing the joint China-India program as a “game changer,” a top Afghan official had earlier told CGTN Digital that the coming together of both the Asian powers is a “win-win situation” not only for Afghanistan but for the entire region.
“The training program is aimed to help capacity building in Afghanistan but its significance is bringing China and India together in Afghanistan and promoting cooperation instead of competition,” Amir Ramin, director general of Regional Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Afghanistan, told CGTN Digital.
“China and India, and in fact the whole region can be the winners of their cooperation in Afghanistan as this can serve as a game-changer in addressing regional security challenges and providing a conducive environment for sustainable economic development,” he said, adding that peace in the region is crucial for both China and India for their proposed economic projects in South and Central Asia to bear fruits.
(Cover photo: Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian Embassy in China, Acquino Vimal (L), speaks at the launch of the second phase of the India-China joint training program at the CFAU, Beijing, November 19, 2018. /Photo via Embassy of India in China)