India's security concerns ‘first and foremost’, says US deputy state secretary
The senior diplomat assured that the United States is putting together a robust programme for ‘over-the-horizon’ capabilities for counter terrorism capabilities in Afghanistan.
US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman on Wednesday said that the United States appreciates India’s concerns about the spillover of terrorism from Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the war-torn region. Sherman, who is on a three-day visit to India, met foreign secretary Harsh Shringla in New Delhi to review the bilateral agenda of the two countries. The senior US diplomat said after the meeting that India and the United States have "one mind and one approach" on Afghanistan.
The visit comes in the backdrop of Taliban’s government formation in Afghanistan and its attempt to get recognition from the international community. India as well as the United States have not recognised the Taliban government and opted for a wait-and-watch policy as the situation unfolds in Afghanistan.
Sherman underlined that the both countries have laid out similar conditions on the way forward in Afghanistan, including the formation of an inclusive government that represents all communities and preventing Afghan soil from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. Other conditions include respect for human rights, and providing safe and orderly travel for those who want to leave Afghanistan.
During the Taliban's previous rule in Afghanistan, the group was notorious for enforcing its harsh interpretation of Sharia law, which included banning women from workplaces. In the final days of US troops' withdrawal, the Sunni Pashtun militants assured that they will respect human rights and give more freedom to women and girls, however, added that it will be in line with “genuine Islamic system”.
“Taliban must act, and not just speak words,” the American diplomat said after meeting with Shringla and national security advisor Ajit Doval. “No country is in a rush on recognising or giving legitimacy to Taliban.”
The Taliban's return has also raised concerns about Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda, impacting the regional security.
Sherman said that the United States is putting together a robust programme for ‘over-the-horizon’ capabilities for counter terrorism capabilities in Afghanistan from far longer range. India's security concerns will be "first and foremost" and "front and centre" for the US, she added.