Reflecting their commitment to coordinate their activities in Afghanistan, India and China on Monday formally launched their first joint project of training Afghan diplomats.

The decision to launch the joint project was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their informal summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan in April.

A batch of 10 diplomats from Afghanistan began a training programme at the Foreign Services Institute (FSI) in New Delhi at a function on Monday morning. Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui and Charge D’Affaires of Afghanistan in India Mohammad Khairullah Azad were among those present on the occasion. These diplomats will be in Delhi till October 26 before going to China for further training.

In a message read out at the inauguration of the training programme, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj recollected that the seeds for Sino-India cooperation in Afghanistan were sown by PM Modi and the Chinese President. “This marks the beginning of what we visualise as a long-term trilateral partnership for the benefit of Afghanistan,” she said.

Swaraj reiterated India’s commitment to partner with Afghanistan in its efforts to emerge as a united, peaceful, stable, inclusive, and economically vibrant nation.

“Development partnership, based on the priorities of the government and the people of Afghanistan, has been the cornerstone of our multifaceted bilateral cooperation,” she added.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chinese envoy said the launch of the programme marked an important step as it reflected closer coordination and cooperation between India and China on regional affairs and represented a positive development in ties between the two nations.

Luo said China-India Plus cooperation should be extended from Afghanistan to other countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives, Iran, and Myanmar. The two countries could also join hands under mechanisms such as SAARC, BIMSTEC, and BCIM to promote regional peace, stability and prosperity.

He also disclosed that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi would visit India in December to launch the high-level people-to-people contact mechanism along with the Indian Foreign Minister.

PM Modi and the Chinese President would meet for the fourth time this year in November on the margins of the G-20 Summit in Argentina.