India holds first dialogue with Taliban in Doha, return of Indians from Afghanistan discussed – Times of India

NEW DELHI: India’s ambassador to Qatar today met with Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, head of Taliban’s Political Office in Doha.
The meeting took place at the request of the Taliban, the MEA said in a statement. This is the first direct official engagement between India and the Taliban. The meeting took place at the Indian embassy in Doha.
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.
Indian ambassador Deepak Mittal raised concerns about Afghan soil being used for anti-India activities and terrorism. Stanekzai assured that the concerns would be positively addressed.
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The meeting is significant, as India was kept out of the ‘troika plus’ dialogues on Afghanistan involving US, Russia, China and Pakistan.
However India had participated in a regional conference on the Afghan situation in Doha earlier this month.
In September last year, an Indian delegation attended the inaugural ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations featuring various stakeholders including the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha. Foreign minister Jaishankar had joined it through a video conference.
The meeting between Mittal and Stanekzai took place hours after the US completed the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, ending its 20-year-long military campaign in the country.
On Saturday, Stanekzai, in a clear overture, described India as an important country in the region and said the Taliban wants to maintain Afghanistan’s trade, economic and political relations with it.
“We attach great importance to our trade, economic and political relations with India and want to maintain that relation,” he had said.
(With agency inputs)

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India holds first dialogue with Taliban in Doha, return of Indians from Afghanistan discussed – Times of India

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