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India aids Afghanistan’s first agricultural university
February 15, 2014, 1:28 pm

Karzai's government has received $2 billion in assistance from India since 2002 [Xinhua]

Karzai’s government has received $2 billion in assistance from India since 2002 [Xinhua]

New Delhi and Kabul are pushing for better ties ahead of Afghanistan’s April presidential election and the planned pullout of most foreign troops by the end of the year.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid inaugurated the first Afghan agricultural university in southern Kandahar province on Saturday.

“The National Agricultural Science and Technology University is a key achievement for the higher education of Afghanistan. It is an important step forward for the upgrading of agriculture in the country,” Karzai said in his address at the opening ceremony in the provincial capital Kandahar city.

Khurshid, who arrived here for a day-long visit, said the inauguration of the university supported by India would further enhance bilateral ties and agriculture sector in the landlocked nation.

The Indian Foreign Minister backed the “brave leadership” of Karzai.

“These elections are a testament to the fact that democracy has taken firm roots in this country. It is also a testament to your extraordinary and brave leadership over the last 12 years, and the manner in which you have nurtured the plant of democracy in this country,” Khurshid said.

Among other high-ranking Afghan officials, Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Usmani and Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi attended the ceremony amid tight security.

Three decades of war and drought had a devastating impact on the agricultural sector in the country where over 80 per cent of population relies on agriculture.

Karzai is struggling to wean the country off international aid, which is expected to fall short of the amount needed to pay for its security forces and sustain economic growth.

India has provided $2 billion in aid to Afghanistan since 2002.

The US administration is negotiating with Kabul to sign a bilateral security agreement with Washington that would allow some American troops to stay beyond the 2014 deadline.

Source: Agencies