India among 10 countries to participate in meeting convened by Taliban in Kabul | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India among 10 countries to participate in meeting convened by Taliban in Kabul

Jan 30, 2024 04:43 AM IST

The Regional Cooperation Initiative meet was attended by diplomats from Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey & Indonesia.

NEW DELHI: India was among 10 regional countries that participated in a meeting of diplomatic representatives convened by the Taliban setup in Kabul on Monday, reflecting the growing engagement with a regime that isn’t officially recognised by New Delhi.

India’s participation at the meeting of diplomatic representatives convened by the Taliban setup reflects the growing engagement with a regime that isn’t officially recognised by New Delhi (X/)
India’s participation at the meeting of diplomatic representatives convened by the Taliban setup reflects the growing engagement with a regime that isn’t officially recognised by New Delhi (X/)

The Regional Cooperation Initiative meeting, which was addressed by Taliban acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, was also attended by diplomats from Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Indonesia. Russia was represented by its special representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov.

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There was no official word from Indian officials on the meeting, which came days after the Indian Indian embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) invited the acting Afghan envoy Badruddin Haqqani to the Republic Day celebrations in Abu Dhabi.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman of the Taliban foreign ministry, quoted the Indian representative who attended the meeting as saying that New Delhi backs all initiatives focused on the stability of Afghanistan. “India actively takes part in international and regional initiatives regarding Afghanistan, and supports every effort leading to the stability and the development of Afghanistan,” Ahmad quoted the Indian representative as saying in a post on X.

A statement from the Taliban foreign ministry said Muttaqi considers relations with countries of the region to be significant and that he emphasised that these nations “should hold regional dialogues to increase and continue the positive interaction with Afghanistan”.

Muttaqi asked the participants to take advantage of emerging opportunities in Afghanistan for the development of the region and to also “coordinate the management of potential threats”. He emphasised the need for positive interactions with the countries of the region and asked the diplomats to convey the Taliban’s message of a “region-oriented initiative” to their countries so that Afghanistan and the region can jointly take advantage of new opportunities for the benefit of all.

Reports in the Afghan media quoted Muttaqi as saying that the meeting was focused on discussions for establishing a “region-centric narrative aimed at developing regional cooperation for a positive and constructive engagement between Afghanistan and regional countries”.

He also told the meeting that regional cooperation could focus on exploring engagement pathways based on common regional benefits, creating a regional narrative for “positive and constructive engagement” with the Taliban government to “tackle existing and potential threats” in the region, and efforts aimed at “soft and hard connectivity” for regional economic

development.

Muttaqi further said the regional cooperation should lead to calls for the removal of “unilateral sanctions” on Afghanistan and respect for “one another’s choices of indigenous and traditional development models and governance methods”.

Afghanistan is a “sovereign, free and safe country” with a government that “stands ready and has the capacity to conduct talks on common and concerning issues” with regional and international players, Muttaqi was quoted as telling the meeting. He added that Afghanistan does not want confrontation with any country but seeks positive engagement.

“Therefore, our choices shall be respected. Instead of proposing governance models and pointing fingers at the system, it is better to engage on mutual interests,” Muttaqi said.

India, the largest regional donor for Afghanistan with pledges amounting to $3 billion, pulled out all its diplomats and officials from the country after the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021. It subsequently re-established a diplomatic presence in the country by deploying a “technical team” at the mission in Kabul in June 2022.

Senior Indian diplomats have interacted with Taliban officials in West Asian countries and on the margins of multilateral meetings on Afghanistan such as the Moscow Format talks hosted by Russia.

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