India, Taliban make first official contact after last US troops leave Afghanistan

Hours after the last US military aircraft flew out of Kabul to mark the end of its 20-year war in Afghanistan, India made its first official contact with the Taliban when its ambassador to Qatar met the head of the Taliban political office in Doha Tuesday.

Announcing the meeting, the Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement, said: “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, on 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,” it said.

“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 the Ambassador that these issues would be positively addressed,” the MEA said.

Mittal was Joint Secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) in the MEA before he handed charge to J P Singh in 2020. India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Rudrendra Tandon, was also JS (PAI) before Mittal.

Singh, Tandon and Mittal have been playing key roles in shaping India’s response to the situation in Afghanistan.

Mittal accompanied Singh to several meetings in Doha where they had…

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