Cabinet approves construction of Parliament in Afghanistan

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New Delhi, Nov 6 (UNI) The Union Cabinet today gave approval for construction of the Parliament building in Afghanistan and the Indian Chancery complex in Kabul at a revised estimated cost of Rs 950 crore.

The foundation stone for the proposed Parliament building was laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Afghanistan in August 2005.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Prithviraj Chavan, told mediapersons after a meeting of the Union Cabinet that the construction of the Parliament building would be a ''visible symbol'' of India's contribution for strengthening and rebuilding democracy in Afghanistan and would generate goodwill for India.

The construction of the Chancery complex would provide a secure and functional base for our dilomatic functions in Kabul, he added.

The need for a safe and secure place for the Indian embassy staff was felt after the July 7 terrorist attack in which five Mission staff were killed.

India is actively involved in Afghanistan's reconstruction process and has contributed men and material besides financial support to the war-torn country.

The present level of India's assistance is over 100 million dollars annually. During the visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Afghanistan last year, India pledged additional assistance of 100 million dollars, thus making the total amount of our assistance over 750 million dollars.

Of this, 400 million dollars have already been disbursed so far.

India has also undertaken projects virtually in all parts of Afghanistan, in a wide range of sectors, including hydro-electricity, power transmission lines, road construction, agriculture and industry, telecommunications, information and broadcasting, capacity development, humanitarian assistance, education and health.

UNI RB SKB CS1417

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