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Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate Afghan-India friendship dam

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Afghanistan for the second time in six months today, on a one-day visit to inaugurate Salma dam with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The dam, in western Herat’s Chest district close to the Iran border, is one of two large projects carried out under India’s development partnership with Afghanistan, worth more than $2 billion.

In March, Taliban militants fired a barrage of rockets at Afghanistan’s newly built parliament complex in Kabul.The complex, built by India at an estimated cost of $90 million, was inaugurated by PM Modi in December.

“The completion of the Afghan-India friendship dam represents the culmination of years of hard work by around 1,500 Indian and Afghan engineers and other professionals in very difficult conditions,” Vikas Swarup, foreign ministry spokesman told reporters of the Saturday visit.

“The real image that India has in Afghanistan is as a partner which has stood by… through its difficult times, a partner which has contributed immensely to Afghanistan’s development, unlike some partners who have contributed to instability and terrorism,” Swarup said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

India has invested in excess of USD 2 billion in the last few years in Afghanistan. “Our commitment to Afghanistan remains despite these challenges,” he said.

A number of Herat residents on Thursday (June 2) held their own celebration to inaugurate Salam dam and called it an historical event.

The participants praised security forces for securing Salam dam and called the forces “constructive and peace champions”.

India and Afghanistan recently signed a three-way transit agreement with Iran to develop its southern port of Chabahar, as Modi visited Tehran last month.

The deal, bypassing Pakistan to connect Iran, India, and Afghanistan to central Asia, would boost economic growth in the region, Modi said at the time.

Afghanistan is part of Modi’s five-nation trip beginning June 4 which will also cover Qatar, Switzerland, the US and Mexico.
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