India will stand by people of Afghanistan, says president

New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) India will stand by the government and people of Afghanistan in the critical period of transition, development and nation-building, President Pranab Mukherjee said here Tuesday.

Mukherjee, who met Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai at Rashtrapati Bhavan here, said India was prepared to increase bilateral contribution to institution-building, training and equipment in Afghanistan, said an official release.

Karzai said India was amongst the closest of countries to Afghanistan and, according to many surveys, it was the country most liked by the Afghan people.

He said Indo-Afghan relations stood on solid ground and bilateral ties were “greater than any time before”.

Mukherjee said India was proud to partner government and people of Afghanistan in their efforts towards reconstruction and development of the country.

“The president said India would stand by the government and the people of Afghanistan in the critical period of transition, development and nation-building,” the release said.

Mukherjee said the two countries should deepen bilateral relations in all areas as prescribed in the Strategic Partnership Agreement.

NATO troops are expected to leave Afghanistan by end of 2014.

Mukherjee had earlier in the day met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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