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Afghanistan PM completes first day of Belarus visit

Afghanistan is usually associated with fight against terrorism. At least this is how we in Belarus see this Central Asian state. However now the country is doing a lot of efforts to get away from stereotypes and change its international image. For this, the Afghan government is looking for proven partners around the world.

Earlier Alexander Lukashenko discussed with his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov possible points of mutually beneficial cooperation between Belarus and Afghanistan. And finally representatives of both countries meet eye to eye. Will this mark a new page in the history of relations between Minsk and Kabul?

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
Belarus is an exceptionally peace-loving country. Nevertheless, I personally feel (and I am sure that there are many such people in Belarus) some kind of responsibility, if you will, for what is happening in Afghanistan today. This is how the history of relations of the Soviet Union with other states of the world, including Afghanistan, developed in those days. And we, as an integral part of the former Soviet Union, bear responsibility for what happened in those days in Afghanistan. And this responsibility is not only with the Soviet Union. To a greater extent, this is the responsibility of other countries. You know them well.

I'm not a supporter of forgetting history. However, it's probably wrong to focus too much on the processes that occurred in history. We must build relationships, we must do everything in order to make our relations beautiful in the future, so that we are not ashamed to look into each other's eyes.

Tractors are among the most popular Belarusian goods in Afghanistan. Basically thanks to their import the trade turnover in 2016 reached $26 million. The population of Afghanistan is 3 times more than in Belarus, and GDP is almost 3 times lower. Food, machinery and oil products is the example of what Afghanistan needs. Belarus can offer this all.

Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan:
This visit is very useful and important for us. I thank you for being ready to lay the foundation for our close relationship. Our government and our people are determined to rebuild their state in the fields of education, health and agriculture. Belarusian experience would be very useful.

The Afghan delegation are scheduled to visit factories and an agricultural cooperative. The countries earlier signed agreements on cooperation in various fields.

Abdullah Abdullah is the doctor of medical sciences, therefore he is well acquainted with the achievements of Belarusian public health. Treatment in Belarus and medical training of Afghan students is among the wishes of the Afghan side.

In turn, Afghanistan is ready to give Belarusians its mineral resources. In the future the countries may establish joint production facilities, if pilot projects of cooperation are implemented successfully.

Alexander Lukashenko:
I want to assure you, as the head of the executive branch, that our government will do everything in order to build the foundation of our relations in order to strengthen our relationship. In order to fill it with specific content and move from the wishes and conversations to a specific cooperation. We are ready for this. I would like you to learn Belarus' capabilities during your visit. I want to assure you that we will definitely do everything that you are interested in (if we are able to do this).

In the morning, the head of the Afghan government met with the Belarus President. During lunch he held negotiations with the Prime Minister of the country in a narrow and expanded format. The main topics were business cooperation and simplification of the visa regime. International agreements have been signed.

Andrei Kobyakov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus:
We agreed to use more actively the potential of the chambers of commerce and industry and other structures that unite the business circles of the two countries to establish contacts between business entities and build up mutual trade. In addition, both sides spoke in favor of intensifying humanitarian cooperation, especially in the field of education and science, which is an important aspect of bilateral cooperation, which contributes to the growth of trust and mutual understanding among peoples.

During the 18 years of diplomatic relations, economic relations have noticeably revived after the meetings of the leaders of the two states at SCO and BRICS conferences, as well as negotiations between Alexander Lukashenko and the head of the executive branch of Afghanistan at the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. This first official visit of Abdullah Abdullah to Belarus should give a new impetus to relations between Kabul and Minsk. Afghans associate Belarus not only with strong industrial potential but also with peace.

Abdullah Abdullah:
We are familiar with your great history, we know about the sacrifices your people have made in the struggle for their independence. I would also like to note the great contribution that you make to the Minsk negotiating process.

In support of these words, the Afghan government delegation laid flowers and wreaths to the Eternal Flame and the foot of the monument on Victory Square.

Afghanistan PM completes first day of Belarus visit