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Indian team in Kabul to hold talks with Taliban regime

While India has still not recognised the regime in Kabul, the team, led by J P Singh, Joint Secretary (PAI-Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) in the Ministry of External Affairs, has already reached the Afghan capital to meet senior members of the Taliban government.

ASHOK TUTEJA | New Delhi |

In clear signals that New Delhi was willing to seriously engage with the Taliban regime in Kabul, India has despatched a high-level official team to Afghanistan to meet top Afghan leaders and to oversee the delivery operations of India’s massive humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country.

While India has still not recognised the regime in Kabul, the team, led by J P Singh, Joint Secretary (PAI-Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran) in the Ministry of External Affairs, has already reached the Afghan capital to meet senior members of the Taliban government. This is the first such visit by an official Indian delegation to Afghanistan since its takeover by the Taliban in August last year.

Officials say the team would also meet representatives of the international organisations involved in the distribution of humanitarian assistance. In addition, the team is expected to visit various places where Indian programmes/projects are being implemented.

The development came amid reports that India is exploring the possibility of reopening its embassy in Afghanistan, but without top-level diplomatic representation. The embassy staff was brought back to India soon after the Taliban captured power in the embattled country. A team of security officials has already visited Kabul to assess the ground situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban regime also wants India to reopen its embassy in Kabul while thanking New Delhi for its assistance in the form of wheat and Covid-19 vaccines in recent months.

In response to the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, India decided to extend humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. In this endeavour, New Delhi has already dispatched several shipments of humanitarian assistance consisting of 20,000 MTs of wheat, 13 tonnes of medicines, 500,000 doses of COVID Vaccine and winter clothing. Furthermore, India is in the process of shipping more medical assistance and foodgrains to Afghanistan.

India has also gifted one million doses of India-made COVAXIN to Iran to administer to Afghan refugees in Iran. India’s development and humanitarian assistance has received widespread appreciation across the entire spectrum of Afghan society.

Officials point out that India has historical and civilisational ties with the Afghan people and these longstanding linkages will continue to guide New Delhi’s approach