Afghan President Ghani arrives in India on three-day visit

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New Delhi: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrived in India on Monday night on a three-day state visit, his first after becoming president seven months ago.

He was received at Palam airport by Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha.

Ghani had to delay his visit for a few hours following a major Taliban attack in Kunduz province, Afghan reports said.

Ghani had conferred with NATO’s top commander General John Campbell and Afghan security officials on Monday following the Taliban attack on police and army check posts in Kunduz.

On Tuesday, Ghani will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House.

Ghani, in an interview to NDTV, said India and Afghanistan were bound by a “million ties”.

To a question that there was a perception that India has “moved down the rung” due to Ghani choosing to visit China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and countries in Central Asia before visiting India, the president denied it and said “if the visit has been delayed, it has not been because of lack of willingness, but opportunities, and we say ‘der aaya durust aaya’, what comes late gets to be perfect”.

He said India was the fifth largest donor to his country and expressed “enormous gratitude”.

Ghani said his country was “looking at the Indian private sector as a driver of our prosperity”.

He said he had met Modi during the SAARC summit in Kathmandu last November.

“We really hit it off, we can talk to each other, and we’ve had telephone conversations, and have had Indian high ranking delegations repeatedly (visit Kabul), so by no means…”

He told NDTV Afghanistan was “repositioning itself and it is going to be a platform for regional and global cooperation, not a place of contentions and a battlefield for proxy wars”.

On Tuesday, the Afghan president will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan and later go to Rajghat to lay a wreath at the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will call on him at the Dwarka Suite of Rashtrapati Bhavan after which he will leave for Hyderabad House to hold talks with Modi.

Both sides will make media statements.

Ghani will later be called on by several union ministers, including of Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Health Minister J.P. Nadda.

Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari will also call on him.

He will later make a special address at the Indian Council of World Affairs.

He will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee and attend a special banquet.

On Wednesday, Ghani will hold a business meeting with the India business organisations, CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM. He leaves on Wednesday evening.

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