Prime Minister Modi arrives in Afghanistan

Saturday, Jun 4, 2016,13:05 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Herat | In his second visit to Afghanistan in less than six months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today arrived here on a short trip to inaugurate a dam, a showpiece infrastructure project by India in the strategically important Herat province neighbouring Iran.

The Prime Minister will also hold talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the current situation in the country and the peace process besides other bilateral and regional issues. The Afghan-India Friendship Dam, earlier known as Salma dam, in western Herat district is built at a cost of over Rs 1,700 crore under India’s development partnership with Afghanistan.

The dam on the river Chist-e-Sharif will irrigate 75,000 hectares of land and generate 42 MW of power. It is symbol of our friendship and would usher in hope, light up homes, nourish the fertile fields of Herat and bring prosperity to the people of the region, the Prime Minister said yesterday.

The Herat province lies on the ancient trade routes of the Middle East, Central and South Asia. Roads from Herat to Iran, Turkmenistan, and other parts of Afghanistan are considered strategically important.

Last month, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed an agreement to set up a trade and transport corridor with Chabahar in Iran as the hub. Over 1,500 Indian and Afghan engineers were involved in construction of the dam for several years in difficult condition.

Afghanistan is Modi’s first stop as part of his five- nation tour which will also take him to Qatar, Switzerland, the US and Mexico. Modi had visited Kabul on December 25 last year during which he had inaugurated a swanky Parliament complex that was built by India at a cost of USD 90 million.

India has a strategic partnership with Afghanistan and is implementing projects worth USD 2 billion to help rebuild the country’s infrastructure. India has been supporting an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, broad-based and inclusive process of peace and reconciliation, and advocating the need for a sustained and long-term commitment to Afghanistan by the international community.

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