Taliban initiates dialogue with India in Qatar

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Ambassador of India to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, meets Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the Head of Taliban’s Political Office in Doha on the request of Taliban, reports Asian Lite News

After the US completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, Taliban initiated dialogue with India in Qatar over safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded over there, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Tuesday.

For the first time, India has made public a meeting held between the two sides.

The ministry stated that 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,” said the ministry.

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 to India also came up.

Ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner.

Stanekzai assured the Ambassador that these issues would be positively addressed.

Stanekzai, known as Sheru, trained in the Indian Military Academy in the 1982, rose to the ranks of Deputy Health Minister during the Taliban regime, and later served as a chief peace negotiator in Doha.

He was also Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Taliban regime. The 58-year-old Pashtun comes from the Stanekzai clan. He can speak five languages and he served as Taliban’s Political Office chief between 2015-2019.

Taliban had seized the war-ravaged country’s capital Kabul on August 15 after then President, Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

On August 30, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Afghanistan, aiming to prevent the use of Afghan soil by terrorist organisations against any country.

The resolution was adopted with 13 votes in favour while Russia and China preferred to abstain.

Taliban asks countries to reopen embassies

As the US forces exited Afghanistan on Tuesday, the Taliban have asked countries to reopen their embassies in Kabul that they had a sitdown soon after the outfit took control of the country, local media said.

The Taliban have called on countries, especially the US, to resume diplomatic relations with Afghanistan, Tolonews reported.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, “America should have a diplomatic presence in Kabul. We have communication channels with them and we expect them to reopen their embassy in Kabul and we also want to have trade relations with them,” the Afghan-based organisation reported.

Soon after the last US military plane flew out of Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Washington has suspended diplomatic presence in Kabul and transferred “our operations to Doha, Qatar”.

“For the time being, we will use this post in Doha to manage our diplomacy with Afghanistan,” he said.

The Taliban have also sought to reestablish relations and asked nations to invest and help rebuild Afghanistan.

A member of the Taliban’s cultural commission Ahmadullah Wasiq said, “We promise to the world, regional countries and neighbouring countries that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used against them. The world should recognize the Afghan government and cooperate with us on reconstruction and with investments.”

Afghanistan had 36 embassies of various nations in Kabul. And in return, the country had 71 embassies and general consulates in those countries. Many countries suspended their diplomatic presence in Afghanistan due to the recent turmoil.

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