India, Afghanistan ink pact for visa-free travel

India and Afghanistan have inked a pact for visa-free travel by their diplomats following Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah’s recent meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during which they discussed key bilateral issues.

“Sustained engagement with Afghanistan. Chief Executive Abdullah meets the Prime Minister… Promoting stronger diplomatic ties… India and Afghanistan sign agreement on visa free travel for diplomats,” India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted on Monday.

According to Indian media reports, Abdullah thanked Modi for India’s consistent assistance support in various spheres including defence and for meeting his country’s developmental needs. India had given three multi-role Mi-35 helicopters to Afghanistan in December for combating terrorism in the war-torn country.

The Afghan Chief Executive Officer and Head of the Council of Ministers is currently in India and is expected to attend a conference on counter-terrorism in Jaipur. His visit to India comes in wake of his Indian counterpart’s visit to Kabul, where he had inaugurated the newly-built Afghan parliament building in December last year.

Opening the parliament building in Kabul, Modi had pledged India’s support for the Afghan government and urged regional powers including Pakistan to work together to foster peace. “India is here to contribute, not to compete; to lay the foundation of future, not light the flame of conflict,” Modi had told lawmakers in Kabul, adding that Afghanistan could never “serve the designs of others”.

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