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    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets the audience as he prepares to deliver the 37th Singapore Lecture Monday, Nov. 23, 2015

    Water and Power: Indian PM to Inaugurate Friendship Dam in Afghanistan

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    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Afghanistan to inaugurate a dam built by New Delhi, in a direct show of strength to the country's neighboring rival Pakistan.

    This will be Modi’s second visit in six months to war-torn Afghanistan, with which India shares a close relationship.

    The Friendship Dam, also known as Salma Dam, was yet another symbol of growing India-Afghan ties in recent years as New Delhi is aggressively pursuing a strategic partnership with Afghanistan to check Pakistan’s influence.

    ​The dam was the work of more than 1,500 engineers both from India and Afghanistan – who battled severe working conditions to construct the facility. The construction of the dam, which is located near the country's border with Iran, cost about $2 billion.

    With a storage capacity of 640 million cubic meters of water, the water reservoir is expected to produce 42 megawatts of electricity. It will also provide water to up to 80 hectares of agricultural land in nearby areas.

    “Prime Minister [Modi] and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam on June 4, Saturday, in Herat province. The completion of the dam project represents the culmination of work by 1500 Indian and Afghan engineers and other professionals in very difficult conditions,” said Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for India’s External Affairs Ministry, in a statement.

    India remains a key foreign force in Afghanistan, which has been reeling under intense pressure in the wake of withdrawing NATO forces and an increasing Taliban insurgency. New Delhi has been involved in several key infrastructure projects, including a new parliament building.

    During the press conference, Swarup added: “The real image that India has in Afghanistan is as a partner which has stood by… through its difficult times, a partner which has contributed immensely to Afghanistan's development, unlike some partners who have contributed to instability and terrorism,” in a thinly veiled remarks directed at Pakistan.

    Modi visited Afghanistan in December 2015 to inaugurate the Indian-built parliament complex in capital Kabul. The building was attacked by the Taliban in March of this year.

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    official visit, bilateral relations, dam, Narendra Modi, Afghanistan, India
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