‘Good start in ties’ – Indian officials hold first talks with Taliban in Afghanistan

  • Indian officials met with Taliban leader Amir Khan Muttaqi.
  • The discussion was set up to discuss aid and bilateral ties.
  • There are no formal ties between Afghanistan and India.

A team of Indian officials met with Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister to discuss bilateral ties and humanitarian aid, the Taliban said, during what was the first visit to Kabul since the group took control of the country in 2021.

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Poverty and hunger have exploded in Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power after the United States withdrew, and India has sent food grains and other aid.

The acting foreign minister of the Taliban government, Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, met with an Indian delegation from the foreign ministry led by JP Singh, a secretary of the ministry.

Taliban Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said on Twitter:

The meeting focused on India-Afghan diplomatic relations, bilateral trade and humanitarian aid.

Balkhi said the minister called the visit a “good start to ties between the two countries”.

India has no formal diplomatic ties with the Taliban government, but its envoys have previously met with Taliban representatives in Qatar’s capital Doha, where the group has an office.

Asked if New Delhi now officially recognized the Taliban government, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi told reporters that they “read way too much into the visit”.

The ministry said in a statement earlier that the officials would oversee the delivery of humanitarian aid and visit areas targeted by Indian-backed programs or projects.

India has donated about 20,000 tons of wheat, 13 tons of medicines, 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine and winter clothing, with more medicines and food grains on the way, it said.

India withdrew its officials from Afghanistan and closed its embassy last August, though it is keen to maintain ties with the country where its regional rival Pakistan has significant influence.

Bagchi declined to say when the embassy could reopen, except to say that local staff had continued to operate and ensure proper maintenance and maintenance of its buildings there.

Muttaqi expressed his gratitude for the Indian humanitarian and medical assistance to Afghanistan and stressed the importance of India’s resumption of projects, its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and the provision of consular services to Afghans, especially Afghan students and patients, Balkhi said. .

Before the Taliban took power, India provided training and military equipment to Afghan security forces, but had no troops on the ground. It was also the largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan in the region.

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