Qatar special envoy in Delhi to discuss Afghan situation
Qatar’s special envoy for conflict resolution Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani, who has played a key role in the Afghan peace process, on Friday met the external affairs ministry’s pointperson for Afghanistan to discuss the latest developments in the war-torn country.
Al-Qahtani, who holds the official title of special envoy of the Qatari foreign minister for counter-terrorism and mediation of conflict resolution, is currently on a two-day visit to India.
He met joint secretary JP Singh of the external affairs ministry’s Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran (PAI) desk and exchanged views on the current situation in Afghanistan and recent developments in the Afghan peace process, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.
Al-Qahtani will meet foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Saturday. He also met Sanjay Bhattacharya, the secretary responsible for consular issues and overseas Indian affairs on Friday.
The Qatari diplomat’s visit to India comes days ahead of two key meetings in Doha on the situation in Afghanistan. Russia has convened a meeting of the “extended troika”, which includes China, the US and Pakistan, in Doha on August 11. Qatar will host a separate meeting between the Afghan side and its regional and international partners later this month.
Various stakeholders are looking to these meetings to help revive the Afghan peace process, which has been stalled for several months, against the backdrop of the Taliban’s violent campaign to capture territory and urban areas, including provincial capitals.
In June, Al-Qahtani had confirmed that Indian officials were engaged in talks with the Taliban – a development first reported by Hindustan Times. He told a webinar at the time that he believed the Indian side is engaging the Taliban as the group is seen as a “key component” in any future government in Kabul.
He also said that Qatar would not recognise any group that seeks to take Afghanistan by force.
India too has opposed any forcible takeover in Afghanistan, saying such a regime would lack legitimacy, and backed calls for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire and the resumption of negotiations to find a political settlement.