Tue. Oct 19th, 2021

The Indian ambassador to Qatar met with the head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, India’s foreign ministry said.

The Indian ambassador to Qatar has held talks with a top Taliban leader, the Indian foreign ministry said, the first formal diplomatic engagement since the group took over Afghanistan.

The envoy, Deepak Mittal, met on Tuesday at the request of the Taliban Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of the Taliban’s political office, in Doha.

India has long been concerned about the Taliban due to the group’s close ties with arch-enemy Pakistan. The foreign ministry said the two parties discussed the security of the Indians left behind in Afghanistan.

Mittal also expressed India’s fear that fighters against India could use the land of Afghanistan to prevent attacks, the foreign ministry said.

“The Taliban representative assured the ambassador that these issues would be positively addressed,” the foreign ministry said.

The talks come days after Stanekzai was quoted in the local press as saying that the Taliban wanted political and economic ties with India.

There were no immediate comments from the Taliban on the talks with the Indian envoy.

India is investing more than $ 3 billion in development work in Afghanistan and has built close ties with the United States-backed Kabul government. But with the rapid progress of the Taliban, the Indian government was criticized at home for not opening a communication channel for the group.

In June, informal contacts with Taliban political leaders were concluded in Doha, government sources told Reuters. The big fear is that armed groups fighting Indian rule in the Muslim majority in Kashmir will get excited about the Taliban’s victory over foreign powers, one of the sources said.

“Ambassador Mittal has expressed India’s concern that Afghanistan’s land should in no way be used for anti – Indian activities and terrorism,” the Foreign Ministry said.

When the Taliban last ruled from 1996-2001, India, along with Russia and Iran, supported the Northern Alliance, which pursued armed resistance against them.

Stanekzai, who according to Indian officials received training in an Indian military academy as an Afghan officer in the 1980s, came to India informally last month and asked that he not close his embassy, ​​the source said.

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