New Delhi: India and the US Tuesday explored ways to facilitate the movement of people in and out of Afghanistan and efforts to send aid into the war-torn country under a global initiative. The discussion took place during US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West’s meetings with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, ThePrint has learnt.
Talks on the movement of people are important, since that has been an issue between New Delhi and Kabul, according to official sources.
“Foreign Secretary @harshvshringla met US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West @US4AfghanPeace and exchanged views on recent developments and issues of common interest in Afghanistan,” Arindam Bagchi, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs said in a tweet.
Foreign Secretary @harshvshringla met US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West @US4AfghanPeace and exchanged views on recent developments and issues of common interest in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/Pk2rMFeHWF
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) November 16, 2021
The US Special Envoy said in a tweet that the US and India will work towards a “stable and peaceful” Afghanistan.
“We will work together with our close partner to address our abundant shared interests in a stable & peaceful Afghanistan,” West said in a tweet.
A pleasure to meet with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary @harshvshringla, Joint Secretary JP Singh & others in New Delhi today. We will work together with our close partner to address our abundant shared interests in a stable & peaceful Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/asx8ygyPUQ
— U.S. Special Representative Thomas West (@US4AfghanPeace) November 16, 2021
Before coming to India, West had visited Pakistan, where he participated in the extended Troika Plus dialogue in Islamabad that was also attended by Russia and China. The Troika Plus participants had separately met a Taliban delegation, led by the regime’s interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
West then went to Moscow, where he met Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan and discussed their “shared interests” in that country.
Met today in Moscow with Special Presidential Representative Kabulov and Security Council Deputy Secretary Venediktov. Discussed shared interests in Afghanistan and need for Taliban to fulfill commitments to international community.
— U.S. Special Representative Thomas West (@US4AfghanPeace) November 15, 2021
Catching up on developments
Sources also said that the US special envoy apprised the Indian side of the Troika Plus talks, while New Delhi discussed the outcome of the Regional Security Dialogue that was chaired by NSA Doval last week, which was attended by Russia, Iran and five Central Asian countries.
The dialogue had also come up with a ‘Delhi Declaration’ that called on the Taliban to not let Afghanistan become a haven for global terrorism, and let humanitarian assistance flow in in an unimpeded, direct and assured manner.
India is yet to issue e-visas to Afghan nationals who want to escape the Taliban rule in their country, as well as to Afghan students who want to come here for higher studies. Air connectivity between New Delhi and Kabul has also remained suspended ever since the Taliban took over the country in August.
On the issue of sending humanitarian aid and assistance to Afghanistan, New Delhi is yet to chalk out a comprehensive plan. India has made a request to Pakistan to facilitate a shipment of 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat via the Wagah border, which is being discussed with the Imran Khan government.
‘Responsible conduct by Taliban’
During one of his press briefings before starting his trip, West had said, “I think what we want to see is the establishment of a record of responsible conduct by the Taliban, of predictable conduct, and then we’ll assess what needs we have on the diplomatic front. In so far as how we view the terrorist threat in Afghanistan, look, we want the Taliban to succeed against ISIS-K.”
West took over this role in the US State Department after Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated the peace deal between the Taliban and the US, stepped down in October following a chaotic exit by the American troops from Afghanistan that technically ended the two-decade-long war there.
Meanwhile in Kabul, the Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Foreign Minister Muttaqi met Iran’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Kazimi Qomi Tuesday, in order to normalise political and trading relationship between Kabul and Tehran.
This report has been updated to include the US special envoy’s tweet.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)