Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived early this morning from Moscow after a two-day visit to Russia, will today address a joint session of the two Afghan Houses in the new Parliament building along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. The Parliament building project, which was initially conceived at a cost of USD 45 million (Rs. 296 crore), was started by India in 2007 as a mark of friendship and cooperation to help rebuild war-torn Afghanistan. The complex was estimated to cost Rs. 710 crore in 2008.
Later in the day, PM Modi will meet President Ghani. Both leaders are expected to issue a joint statement after the meeting. The Prime Minister is also expected to meet Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai.
The PM’s visit comes just two days after India delivered three of four Russian Mi-25 helicopter gunships to Afghanistan. The fourth, going through overhaul, will be delivered in a month.
The transfer marks a significant shift in New Delhi’s policy – this is the first time India has transferred helicopter gunships or lethal weapons to any country. India has invested around USD two billion in aid and reconstruction in Afghanistan and trained scores of officers in that country.
Afghanistan’s new parliament building was due to have been completed in November 2011 and has missed at least three completion deadlines over the last four years.