The talks focused on safety and early return of Indians from Afghanistan
Indian envoy to Qatar Deepak Mittal today met Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai in Doha. The meeting marked India’s first official engagement with the Taliban since their takeover of Afghanistan.
The talks between Mittal and Stanekzai, which took place at the Indian embassy in Doha, focused on safety and early return of Indians from Afghanistan, MEA said in a statement.
The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit to India also came up. Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner, the statement said.
Stanekzai has assured India that these issues would be positively addressed.
The senior leader had said earlier that the Taliban wants to maintain Afghanistan’s trade, economic and political relations with India.
In a video address in Pashto, Stanekzai had said consultations with various groups and political parties are going on to form a government in Kabul that will have representations from people from “different walks of life”.
“We attach great importance to our trade, economic and political relations with India and want to maintain that relation,” Stanekzai had said on Saturday.
“We also need to keep the air trade open,” he was quoted as saying by Pakistani media outlet Independent Urdu.
The Taliban leader was referring to the air corridor between India and Afghanistan that was established to boost trade between the two countries in view of Pakistan’s denial to allow transit access.
Stanekzai had also described India as an “important country” in the region.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had said earlier that India is adopting a “wait-and-watch” approach to see whether the new dispensation in Afghanistan will be solely a government of the Taliban or be part of a power-sharing arrangement with other Afghan leaders.
India has been a key stakeholder in Afghanistan and has invested nearly USD 3 billion in carrying out around 500 projects across the country.
Stanekzai was part of a group of foreign cadets who received training at the prestigious Indian Military Academy in Dehradun in the early 1980s. He later quit the Afghan Army.