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Afghanistan: India holds first formal talks with the Taliban in Qatar

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The Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement, announced that today, Ambassador of India to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of Taliban’s Political Office in Doha. The meeting took place at the Embassy of India, Doha, at the request of the Taliban side. Discussions focused on safety, security, and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit India also came up.

The MEA in its official statement said that ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner. The Taliban representative assured that these issues will be addressed positively.

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Mittal was Joint Secretary for Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran in the MEA till 2020.

Mittal has also attended several meetings along with Singh in Doha including a recent meet with Afghanistan leader Abdullah Abdullah before Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15.

The leader of the Taliban Stanekzai’s also said in a released statement that India is very important for this subcontinent and their group wants to continue Afghanistan’s “cultural”, “economic”, “political” and “trade ties” with India same as earlier government.

India has condemned and raised objections over the Taliban’s terrorism in Afghanistan. India also objected to Pakisthan and Afghanistan’s ties in Pakisthan and the borders of India. 

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The foreign ministry also said that the two sides discussed the safety of Indians left behind in Afghanistan and got assurance from the Talibani about Indians’ safety. Another concern for India is about various projects going on in Afghanistan and pipelines construction of petrol or gas going through the country.

India has invested more than $3 billion in development work in Afghanistan and they need the safety of this investment from the Taliban. The government of india was facing criticism for not starting talks with the Taliban. Considering all these concerns India had to start talks with the Taliban.

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