New Delhi: India is prepared to increase bilateral contribution to Afghanistan's institution-building, training and equipment and would stand by that country during its critical period of transition, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday.

During a meeting with visiting Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, Mukherjee said India is proud to partner the government and people of Afghanistan in their efforts towards reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.

The President said India would stand by the government and the people of Afghanistan in the critical period of transition, development and nation-building, a Rashtrapati Bhavan press release quoted Mukherjee as saying.

The President said, "We should strengthen and deepen India-Afghanistan relations in all areas as prescribed in the Strategic Partnership Agreement".

"India is prepared to increase bilateral contribution to institution-building, training and equipment to the extent India can," he said.

Karzai, who met the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan, warmly reciprocated Mukherjee's words and said India is amongst the closest of countries to Afghanistan and according to many surveys the country most liked by Afghan people. "India-Afghan relations stand today on solid cemented grounds. Our relations are greater than any time before," he said.

(Agencies)

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