Taliban Prime Minister Meets Indian Diplomats; both sides discuss concerns | Latest news India

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NEW DELHI: A Taliban team led by Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi held talks with a delegation of Indian diplomats on the sidelines of a regional conference on Afghanistan hosted by Russia on Wednesday and reportedly discussed the need to address the concerns of both sides.

There was no official news from the Indian side of the talks on the sidelines of the “Moscow Format” meeting, which brought together diplomats from 10 countries, including India, Pakistan and China, and the Taliban delegation.

The talks represented the first contact between the Indian side and a senior member of the Taliban’s interim cabinet, which was formed last month after the group marched to Kabul on August 15 following the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani government. On August 31, India’s envoy to Qatar had met with senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai.

A statement issued by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the Hanafi-led delegation met with the Indian team led by Deputy Secretary JP Singh, head of the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the sidelines of the meeting. of the Moscow Format.

“Both sides found it necessary to address each other’s concerns and improve diplomatic and economic relations,” Mujahid said. The Indian side expressed its willingness to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people, he added.

People familiar with the matter said, on condition of anonymity, that the Taliban spokesperson’s comments were not a complete and accurate reflection of the discussions. India has repeatedly said in recent weeks that it stands ready to help the Afghan people in the context of a looming humanitarian crisis.

Previously, diplomats from the 10 countries and the Taliban team discussed crucial issues such as providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and countering the terror emanating from Afghan soil.

A joint statement issued after the Moscow Format meeting noted the Taliban’s reaffirmation of previous commitments to “prevent the use of Afghan territory against its neighbors, other states in the region and the rest of the world.” Expressing concern about the activities of outlawed terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, the parties “reaffirmed their willingness to continue promoting security in Afghanistan.”

The 10 countries called on Taliban leaders to take “more steps to improve governance and form a truly inclusive government that adequately reflects the interests of all major ethnopolitical forces.” They also called on the Taliban to “practice moderate and strong internal and external policies, adopt friendly policies towards Afghanistan’s neighbors … and respect the rights of ethnic groups, women and children.”

While expressing concern about the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the parties proposed to convene an international donor conference under the auspices of the UN as soon as possible.

In his opening remarks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on the Taliban to prevent anyone from using Afghan territory against the interests of third countries, mainly immediate neighbors and Central Asian states.

The Indian side was represented by Deputy Secretary JP Singh and Deputy Secretary (Eurasia) Adarsh ​​Swaika. Discussions at the Moscow Format meeting dragged on for more than six hours, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

Lavrov, who held a separate meeting with the Taliban delegation before the Moscow Format meeting, said he had discussed with Taliban leaders the need to prevent the use of Afghan land against other countries.

Noting the lack of stability in Afghanistan, Lavrov said: “Numerous terrorist groups, mainly the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, are trying to take advantage of this in turn, and once again raise their heads and shamelessly throw [and] deadly attacks in various parts of the country. ”

Speaking in Russian, he added: “Unfortunately, the problem of drug production in Afghanistan remains serious. Today there is a real threat of an overflow of terrorist and drug activities, including those that pose as migratory flows, into the territory of neighboring countries. In this context, for obvious reasons, we are particularly concerned about the Central Asian region ”.

Countering these threats to the security of Afghanistan and the surrounding region requires a “timely and adequate response both within the country and from external partners,” Lavrov said. “We call on the Taliban movement to strictly follow the line of preventing someone from using Afghanistan’s territory against the interests of third countries, mainly against Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors: the Central Asian countries, our friends and allies.” .

The people quoted above said that diplomats from various countries, including India, raised the counter-terrorism commitments made by the Taliban during the Moscow Format meeting.

Lavrov also said that a sustainable peace in Afghanistan could be achieved by forming an “inclusive government, which should fully reflect the interests of all ethnic and political forces.”

Hanafi, in his speech, argued that the Taliban’s takeover of power on August 15 had resulted in a “historic transformation” that took place “without bloodshed or destruction.” According to the text of his speech released by the Taliban, he said that the security situation in Afghanistan is “satisfactory” and that the Afghan people “have a responsible government committed to the national interest and safeguarding political freedom.”

The Afghan people, Hanafi said, expect the world community to “have a formal interaction” with the Taliban government, as the “isolation of Afghanistan is not beneficial.” He also called on the United States to lift the freeze on Afghanistan’s foreign assets.

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