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US’ Afghan peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to meet Jaishankar and Doval in Delhi today

Zalmay Khalilzad had last visited India in May to update New Delhi on Taliban peace talks. His Tuesday visit comes amid intra-Afghan talks going on in Doha.

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New Delhi: US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in the national capital Tuesday even as the intra-Afghan dialogue continues in Doha, ThePrint has learnt.

Khalilzad is coming to Delhi directly from Islamabad where he met Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa and other top officials of the Imran Khan government.

The US peace envoy had last visited India in the middle of the lockdown in May when he met Jaishankar and Doval to update them on the peace deal that the US had signed with the Taliban in February this year.

According to diplomatic sources, he will now be discussing the latest US move on the peace talks with Taliban over prisoner swap, among other issues, and the subsequent intra-Afghan dialogue that began last week.

The Ashraf Ghani government had invited India, among other countries, to attend the first day of the dialogue. India was represented at the Qatari capital by J.P. Singh, Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran), Ministry of External Affairs, while Jaishankar addressed the gathering virtually.

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Reiteration of stand

In his virtual speech at the event Saturday, Jaishankar highlighted the need to maintain Afghanistan’s territorial sovereignty and protection of minorities, especially women.

Stressing India’s longstanding stance of not engaging directly with the Taliban, Jaishankar reiterated on 12 September that the peace process should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led.

Abdullah Abdullah, head of the Afghan government’s delegation at the peace talks in Qatar and Chairperson of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, met Singh on the sidelines of the talks in Doha and thanked India for the “continued support”.

“Had a good meeting with JP Singh, JS (PAI), Ministry of External Affairs of India @MEAIndia in Doha-Qatar. We took stock of the developments on the peace efforts, and the need for genuine regional and international support for talks. I also thanked India for its continued support,” Abdullah tweeted.

India has been contributing to and aiding the development of Afghanistan since the beginning of the war there. New Delhi has also been concerned over the attacks there on Afghan Hindus and Sikhs.

In February this year, the US and Taliban signed a peace deal, and Washington and its NATO partners vowed to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, signalling an end to the 18 years of war there.

Also read: Chinese envoy talks of ‘win-win cooperation’, but blames India for illegally trespassing LAC


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