Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Monday attended via video-conferencing the inauguration of the renovated Stor Palace in Kabul, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also in attendance. Modi on the occasion pledged the full support of 1.25 billion Indians to Afghanistan in its quest to achieve peace and prosperity.
The inauguration of the palace, situated on the western side of the Arg Presidential Palace, was also attended by Salahuddin Rabbani, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan.
Modi took the opportunity to speak on various subjects, including Indo-Afghan ties — India has helped Afghanistan not only rebuild the Stor Palace but also a new Parliament building for the country, which was inaugurated late last year, and also the Friendship dam, called the Salma dam, which was inaugurated earlier this year.
Read what Modi said on the occasion. Here is the full text of his speech:
His Excellency President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Foreign Minister Excellency Rabbani and my dear Afghan friends, sisters and brothers,
It is indeed a matter of great pleasure to be with you again. Afghanistan is India's immediate neighbor and, in our hearts and minds, Indians and Afghans have always been closest of friends.
Today, we once again come together to celebrate yet another achievement of our friendship and, take another step in the fruitful journey of our cooperation.
Excellency Ghani, fewer things give greater joy than getting together with good friends to celebrate successful completion of joint initiatives. You and I have been fortunate to have done so on important occasions in the past months.
In December last year, you and the Afghan people stood with me to inaugurate the Afghan Parliament.
The inauguration signalled and showed our joint commitment to strengthening the foundations of modern Afghanistan. The India-Afghanistan-Iran transit corridor Agreement that we signed in May this year was another land mark in our partnership.
It manifested our clear and common determination to build new pathways for Afghanistan's economic progress and prosperity and, a month later, in June this year, we joined hands and inaugurated the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam.
The Salma dam will revive and renew not just the economy and agriculture of the Herat region of Afghanistan.But will also build a strong and lasting pillar of support for Afghanistan's overall growth and development.
Excellency, today's video inauguration of Stor Palace is an entirely different, yet in many ways more fundamental, dimension of our engagement. I say this because it brings back to life a valuable landmark of Afghanistan's cultural heritage.
The Stor Palace has been the setting for many momentous historical events. To those who cannot see beyond shadows of violence in Afghanistan, the restored Stor Palace is a reminder of the glory of Afghanistan's rich traditions.
And for our Afghan brothers and sisters, it revives the beauty, the richness and splendour of lost memories of Afghan society.
True to the foundations of our ties, it links the present of our friendship to the historical bonds of our linkages.I must commend all the artists, experts and consultants who worked day and night to accomplish this delicate task.
Friends, Afghanistan is a close friend. Our societies and people have had age old ties and links.
It, therefore, saddens us to see that your proud nation continues to be challenged by externally sponsored instruments and entities of violence and terror.
Let me assure the people of Afghanistan that in your quest to build a prosperous Afghanistan and to bring peace, security and stability to your society, the 1.25 billion people of India will always be on your side.
The pledge of our partnership and strength of our friendship with Afghanistan is unwavering.
Today's event is a testimony to the resolve and range of our cooperative endeavours.
We want each Afghan to flourish and your society to be benefited from fruits of economic growth.
Whatever may be the odds, India will work with you for a bright future for all Afghans.
Excellency, in the end, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your Government for protecting Indian Embassy and Consulates and ensuring the safety and security of Indian experts working in Afghanistan.
The sacrifices made by our Afghan brothers will not be forgotten.
I once again thank you for your presence today.
I look forward to seeing you in person soon.
I also hope to have an opportunity to visit the renovated Stor Palace someday.
Thank you, Thank you very much.
You can also watch the full coverage of the inauguration here: