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India, US agree to save Afghan gains in 18 years

The US on Tuesday agreed with India that the gains made in Afghanistan over the past 18 years must be preserved in any possible deal in talks with the Taliban – a key concern for the government in New Delhi.

world Updated: May 07, 2019 23:01 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The matter figured in meetings between the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad (in the photo), and his Indian interlocutors.
The matter figured in meetings between the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad (in the photo), and his Indian interlocutors.(AP photo)
         

The US on Tuesday agreed with India that the gains made in Afghanistan over the past 18 years must be preserved in any possible deal in talks with the Taliban – a key concern for the government in New Delhi.

The matter figured in meetings between the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and his Indian interlocutors, including external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale and India’s envoy to Kabul, Vinay Kumar.

Khalilzad, who held talks with the Taliban at Doha in Qatar before travelling to New Delhi, held “consultations with Indian government officials and other stakeholders on the Afghan peace process”, according to a statement from the US embassy here.

Besides preserving the gains made since the Taliban regime was removed after the 9/11 terror attacks in the US in 2001, measures to prevent the use of Afghanistan by terror groups as a “platform for attacks” also figured in the talks. Khalilzad and his counterparts “agreed that Afghan gains of the last 18 years must be preserved and built upon”, the statement said. “Afghanistan’s political future is for Afghans to decide through an inclusive and legitimate process,” it added.

The two sides discussed the “many important benefits that peace would bring, including: preventing international terrorist use of Afghanistan as a platform for attacks; improved prospects for regional peace and security; and increased regional connectivity and trade”.

The statement said Khalilzad will continue to consult with Indian counterparts as the peace process moves forward. He welcomed support for the peace process that “strengthens an emerging international consensus for peace efforts”. He also recognized the “many important contributions India has made to Afghanistan’s development”.

India, which has given $3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan, has been keeping a wary eye on the talks between Khalilzad and the Taliban, who have given no signs of agreeing to a ceasefire or participating in an intra-Afghan dialogue with government and civil society representatives.

First Published: May 07, 2019 23:01 IST

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