Afghanistan stresses on regional road, rail connectivity

Afghanistan today stressed on creating road and railway connectivity in South Asia, saying that the dream of 'breakfast in Kabul, lunch in Peshawar and dinner in New Delhi' is yet to be realised.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi has mentioned breakfast in Kabul, lunch in Peshawar and dinner in New Delhi... (it) has not materialised. But that opportunity is now," Afghanistan's Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah said.

"A functional regional road and rail connectivity is pre- requisite for developing trade. Opening channels of transport and trade will improve the life of our people and generate sustainable revenue for our people and governments," Abdullah said an event organised by industry body Assocham.

Modi had visited Afghanistan last month.

"I applaud Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support and for visiting Afghanistan which reenergised relationship between the two countries," he said.

Stressing that Asia is the most dynamic part of the world and need of the time is to benefit from process of globalisation, Abdullah said Chabahar port in Iran is top priority for Afghanistan, India and Iran.

"We also appreciate India's willingness to envision Chabahar port. I met Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday. PM mentioned Chabahar port as a top priority for Indian government...

"Hopefully through the upcoming negotiations, practical steps will be taken and we will see the implementation of programmes which we have envision," he said.

India has pledged an investment of around USD 85 million in developing the strategic port located off Iran's south-eastern coast, which would provide India a sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had visited Tehran in May, and both the nations inked a pact to develop Chabahar port.

Discussions are on for concluding the MoU agreements between India and Iran, which include possibility of India taking over the development and operation of phase II of Chabahar port.

The Afghanistan CEO said, "We are working towards full implementation of Afghanistan and Pakistan trade and transit agreement as well as its gradual extension to India."

On much-delayed Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India (TAPI )gas pipeline project, Abdullah said, "We are very delighted that the regional energy project TAPI gas pipeline have picked up serious momentum. These regional trade will contribute to economic growth in region."

Informing that Afghanistan has become member of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Afghanistan CEO urged Indians to invest in Afghanistan.