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India announces additional 50 million dollars aid to Afghanistan
11. April 2006, 03:46

AFP - India pledged an extra 50 million dollars in aid to Afghanistan for a total of 650 million dollars since 2001 and said it would consider a new credit facility to boost trade.

"I informed the president that India will provide additional assistance valued at 50 million dollars to Afghanistan," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters after talks with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"That amount will thereby raise the total assistance we have committed to 650 million; the amount of 200 million dollars has already been spent on various projects," he said on Monday.

India is one of the six top donors to post-Taliban Afghanistan and has engaged in many reconstruction projects in the war-ravaged country since November 2001 when the hardline Taliban militia were driven out of Kabul.

Singh said India was also keen to boost trade with Afghanistan which would help energise its fledgling economy.

"In order to encourage trade and investment ties, we shall consider establishing a line of credit of 50 million dollars," Singh added.

Karzai, who arrived in New Delhi Sunday for a three-day visit, said he placed great emphasis on boosting trade and regional economic growth with India.

"We are here to seek investment from India," Karzai told reporters.

"If India is willing, we would be very happy to have Indian companies in Afghanistan," Karzai said, adding that his country could become a "launching pad" for firms to trade with Central Asia.

Karzai, who was last in India in February 2005, said his accompanying delegation included businessmen aiming to expand economic relations.

Karzai is scheduled to address a meeting of businessmen later Monday to seek Indian investment and to inaugurate an Afghan craft fair in New Delhi on Tuesday, an Indian official said.

In a joint statement, Singh and Karzai "condemned global terrorism as a threat to democracy and declared that there can be no compromise with its perpetrators".

Afghanistan's relations with India's long-time rival Pakistan have been hit by Kabul's accusation that militants fighting in Afghanistan have been plotting their insurgency from Pakistan.

Afghan and foreign troops are battling remnants of the Islamist Taliban movement that was ousted from power in late 2001 for failing to surrender Osama bin Laden following the September 11 attacks.

Afghan officials in February handed their counterparts in Islamabad intelligence about Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants whom they said were based in Pakistan and engineering the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Pakistan dismissed the information as outdated and "ridiculous" and President Pervez Musharraf alleged Afghan intelligence was influenced by India.

India backed the Northern Alliance in its fight against the Taliban, who were supported by Pakistan until 2001.

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