AMRITSAR: India hosted the sixth Heart of Asia – Istanbul process of Afghanistan ministerial conference on Sunday in Amritsar with delegates from 45 countries.
The summit adopted the Amritsar Declaration, which puts focus on the concerned countries to address terrorism and enhancing regional economic cooperation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held bilateral talks on a range of key issues and agreed to strengthen counter-terror cooperation between the two countries.
In the meeting, Modi assured Ghani of India’s continued support for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan.
India has a strategic partnership with Afghanistan and is implementing projects worth $2 billion to help rebuild the country’s infrastructure.
Both Ghani and Modi lashed out at Pakistan for its “lack of cooperation” in the fight against terrorism.
Ghani also snubbed Islamabad’s 500-million-dollar aid at the Heart of Asia conference. He said the 500 million dollars in aid that Islamabad pledged for the reconstruction of Afghanistan would be better spent on eradicating terrorists that continue to launch attacks in Afghanistan from Pakistani soil.
Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley, earlier said the choice of Amritsar as the venue for the conference was a deliberate one intended to highlight the immense potential for regional connectivity and the benefits that it can bring to land-locked Afghanistan, provided the countries concerned show the required sincerity and political determination.
He said “The three big issues of the conference were- countering terrorism to create stability in Afghanistan, providing Afghanistan connectivity to strengthen economic activities and the development which is essential for its progress.”
The Heart of Asia Istanbul Ministerial Process was established in November 2011 to provide a platform to discuss regional issues, particularly strengthening security and economic and political cooperation in Afghanistan and among its neighbors.
The United States and some 20 other countries serve as “supporting nations” in the process.
The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan, Norway and the European Union are taking part in this year’s conference being held in Amritsar.