NEW DELHI: In the first such initiative, India and China came together Monday to provide assistance to Afghanistan through a joint training programme for Afghan diplomats.
The Joint India-China Training Programme for Afghan diplomats, from October 15-26, began Monday as part of an understanding reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan.
Ten Afghan diplomats started training at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) here after an event where statements by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi were read out by the diplomats of the two countries.
China's Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui, in his remarks at the inauguration of the programme, said such a 'China-India Plus' cooperation should be extended from Afghanistan to other countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Iran and Myanmar.
Describing India as a "regional major power", he said China and India can also join hands under the mechanisms of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and BangladeshChinaIndia Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM), to promote regional peace, stability and prosperity.
"Both of us (China and India) support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. Both of us uphold that Afghanistan should realise peace, stability and prosperity. Both of us are against terrorism.
"We are talking a lot about the regional connectivity initiatives, such as International North-South Transport Corridor, India-Afghanistan-Iran transit and trade arrangement and China-Pakistan-Afghanistan cooperation. All of these have provided a solid foundation for the current and future cooperation between China and India in Afghanistan," he said.
Noting that the training programme is the first step for the 'China-India Plus' cooperation in Afghanistan, the Chinese envoy said this was just the beginning.
Swaraj, in her statement that was read out by FSI Dean Ambassador J S Mukul, said the seeds for joint cooperation in Afghanistan were sown at the meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi when they met in Wuhan in April 2018.
"Today, we see it blooming with the initiation of this training programme. This marks the beginning of what we visualise as a long term trilateral partnership for the benefit of Afghanistan," Swaraj was quoted as saying.
India is committed to partner Afghanistan in its efforts to emerge as a united, peaceful, secure, stable, inclusive and economically vibrant nation, she said.
Talking about India's New Development Partnership with Afghanistan, she said it aspires to bring prosperity to all 34 provinces of Afghanistan through high impact community development projects.
"Guided by the vision of 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas', the Indian government has embarked on an ambitious development partnership programme with commitment of over USD 3 billion," Swaraj said.
There were four broad pillars of the programme -- building infrastructure, developing human resource, enhancing connectivity, and promoting trade and investment links, she said, noting that the India-Afghanistan friendship dam in Herat, Parliament building in Kabul, and operationalisation of the Chabahar port were prominent symbols of this partnership.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang, in his statement read out by the Chinese ambassador, said the launch of the programme marks an important step forward as it reflects the closer coordination and cooperation between two countries on regional affairs and represents a positive development in Sino-India relations.
"China and India have been active supporters of Afghanistan's peace, and reconstruction process.
This Joint Capacity Building Programme is an essential part of the international efforts to assist Afghanistan and marks the start of China-India-Afghanistan cooperation.
"It is a testament to the joint aspiration and endeavour of China and India, both being major, responsible developing countries, to contribute to regional peace and stability," Wang said.
The Chinese envoy, in his remarks, also said that President Xi and Prime Minister Modi will meet on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina next month.
Luo also Chinese state counsellor and Foreign Minister Wang will visit India in December to launch the first India-China high level people to people exchanges mechanism.
At the end of this week, Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi will visit India, he said, observing that China-India relations were now on a fast track.