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Indian delegation in Kabul: Here's what transpired in their meeting with Taliban

An Indian delegation and the Taliban today met in Kabul for the first time since the takeover in August last year.

Indian delegation in Kabul: Here's what transpired in their meeting with Taliban snt
Kabul, First Published Jun 2, 2022, 8:02 PM IST

Kabul: In a significant geopolitical development in the South Asian region, an Indian diplomat met with Taliban leadership in Afghanistan and discussed diplomatic relations, bilateral trade, and humanitarian aid issues. 

The Taliban seized Afghanistan on August 15 last year, and since then, the two countries have had no official communication. India sent its diplomat, JP Singh, who looks after Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran desks, to meet the Taliban members for the first time. 

Earlier in the day, the ministry of external affairs announced that a team led by Joint Secretary (PAI) is visiting Kabul to oversee the delivery operations of its humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

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What does the Taliban say on meeting with the Indian representative? 

In a series of tweets, Afghanistan's ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi said, "Foreign Minister Maulvi Amir Khan Mottaki met with Indian diplomat JP Singh and his team today. During the meeting, diplomatic relations, bilateral trade and humanitarian assistance were discussed."

Calling it a "good start", the Taliban leadership appreciated New Delhi's efforts for its humanitarian and health assistance. 

Why is the meeting significant? 

Afghanistan's foreign minister stressed India resumed the stalled projects during their meeting. He also urged him to activate the diplomatic presence and provide consular services to Afghans, especially students and patients. 

"The Indian delegation said it wants good relations with Afghanistan as it was earlier and assured to continue its assistance," the spokesperson said.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi further stated that New Delhi would consider assisting and working with Afghanistan in various fields. "It had recently opened its borders and ports for Afghan exports. We have witnessed quantum exports were higher this time against the previous year."

The Afghanistan side is also urged to facilitate further economic growth, especially in export businesses.

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India's response

Talking to media persons in Delhi, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. "A multi-member team headed by Jt Secy JP Singh is in Kabul. The team will meet senior members of the Taliban. They'll also meet representatives of international organisations involved in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. We're focused on the security of our officials."

On a question about recognition of Taliban set up after the visit of the Indian team, he said, "You're reading too much into this visit. This visit is about the distribution of India's humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan."

On the reopening of the embassy in Kabul, Bagchi said that the decision was made to pull back India-based staff in August 2021 due to the deteriorating security situation. Local staff are still working on the upkeep of the mission in Kabul and the distribution of Indian humanitarian assistance. 

India's humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people 

The Narendra Modi government has already dispatched several shipments of supply consisting of 20,000 MTs of wheat, 13 tons of medicines, 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine and winter clothing. 

These consignments were handed over to the India Gandhi Children Hospital, Kabul and UN specialised agencies, including WHO and WFP. 

Furthermore, India is in the process of shipping more medical assistance and foodgrains to Afghanistan.

Under its developmental partnership with Afghan brethren, India has gifted one million doses of India-made COVAXIN to Iran to administer to Afghan refugees in Iran. 

"We have also assisted UNICEF by supplying almost 60 million doses of polio vaccine and two tons of essential medicines," the MEA said.

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