India and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Taliban Thursday discussed a host of issues — resumption of stalled infrastructure projects, activation of diplomatic ties, and restarting the issue of visas for Afghan students and patients — in Delhi’s first-ever diplomatic outreach to the Taliban interim government.
For the first time since the Taliban takeover on 15 August 2021, India has sent an official delegation to Afghanistan, led by J.P. Singh, joint secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran Division) at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
“India, of course, has historical and civilisational ties with the Afghan people and these ties will continue to guide our approach to Afghanistan,” Bagchi said. While India had been maintaining contacts with the Taliban, he said, this was the first such visit to Kabul since they came to power last year.
On the reopening of India’s embassy in Kabul, Bagchi said, “I think we should look at the developments since last August. Post-15-August last year, in the light of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, it was decided to bring back all India-based personnel and officials. However, [our] local staff have continued to function and ensure proper maintenance and upkeep of our premises there and have also been assisting in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”
In terms of humanitarian assistance, India has sent 20,000 metric tonnes (MT) of wheat, 13 tonnes of medicines, 500,000 doses of Covid vaccines, and winter clothing for the Afghan people so far.
This aid has been distributed through international organisations like the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, and UNICEF because India doesn’t have people on the ground to distribute it.
On the issue of granting recognition to the Taliban and the embassy being operational in New Delhi, Bagchi said, “There is an Afghan embassy here which is operating. Yes, there are issues there which have to be resolved. The international community itself is looking at it.
“We are engaged with them on what the international community’s expectations are on recognition of the Taliban and I think that remains there”. India is in the process of shipping more medical assistance and foodgrains to Afghanistan, a press release issued by the MEA said.
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