American special representative on Afghanistan to visit India this week

Published on Dec 01, 2022 11:06 AM IST

This will be Thomas West’s third visit to India since he was appointed in October 2021 to replace Zalmay Khalilzad

US special representative for Afghanistan Thomas West. (Twitter)
US special representative for Afghanistan Thomas West. (Twitter)

The US special representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, will visit India this week for consultations with Indian interlocutors on the humanitarian crisis affecting the Afghan people and shared security concerns.

This will be West’s third visit to India since he was appointed in October 2021 to replace Zalmay Khalilzad. West is expected to meet officials in the external affairs ministry and the National Security Council during his visit. This will also be his first visit to New Delhi since India re-established a diplomatic presence in Kabul.

West will travel to Japan, India, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during December 1-8, the US statement department said on Thursday. He “will consult with partners and Afghans regarding the humanitarian and economic crises in Afghanistan, protection of Afghans’ rights, and shared security concerns”, it said.

He will also engage with the Afghan diaspora, including human rights, business, political and media leaders, on how to address these challenges, the state department said.

The visit will be an opportunity for West to provide the latest US perspective on Afghanistan to his Indian interlocutors, while the Indian side will be able to brief him on its experiences on the ground since New Delhi re-established a diplomatic presence in Kabul by deploying a “technical team” to the mission in June this year, people familiar with the matter said.

West’s visit comes at a time when attacks by the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) have significantly increased, especially against Afghanistan’s Shia Hazara minority. ISKP also claimed a suicide bombing at the Russian embassy in Kabul on September 5 that killed two Russian staff and six others.

India has been increasingly concerned about Afghan territory being used for sheltering, training, and planning terrorist attacks, especially by banned groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Both Pakistan-based groups have moved hundreds of fighters to Afghanistan in recent years, especially when Pakistan was placed on the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The Indian side also shares the world community’s concerns about the Taliban’s failure to deliver on commitments to protect the human rights of all sections of Afghan society, including women and minorities, and to establish a representative government. India has also expressed concern about the dire economic and humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan during a special session of the UN General Assembly last month.

India has insisted that the international community’s approach should be guided by UN Security Council resolution 2593, which demands that Afghan territory should not be used for sheltering, training or planning terror acts, specifically for individuals and entities proscribed by the UN Security Council, including LeT and JeM.

While responding to the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, India has supplied 40,000 tonnes of wheat, 50 tonnes of medical aid, 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines, and 28 tonnes of disaster relief aid.

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