Jaishankar likely to hold 1st in-person meet with Taliban foreign minister Muttaqi in Tashkent

New Delhi: Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar is likely to hold a bilateral meeting with Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Amir Khan Muttaqi, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Foreign Ministers’ Meeting ( SCO), which will be held under the Uzbek Presidency. learned.

While there is no official confirmation of the meeting from either side, the Afghan Taliban regime has requested a meeting with Jaishankar since India decided to reopen its embassy in Kabul in June this year, diplomatic sources told ThePrint.

If such a meeting takes place, it will be the first face-to-face interaction between Jaishankar and Muttaqi.

The proposed meeting, according to top-level sources, will focus purely on issues related to humanitarian aid and aid intended for the Afghan people.

Jaishankar left on Thursday for a two-day visit to Uzbekistan for the SCO’s foreign ministers’ meeting, where he is expected to have a slew of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the main event, including a meeting with China’s foreign minister. Business Wang Yi.

While Jaishankar and Muttaqi are likely to take stock of humanitarian aid flowing from India to Afghanistan at the proposed meeting, the Afghan side is likely to propose to New Delhi to resume work on some of the mega-Indian infrastructure projects that have stalled over the overthrow of the former government of Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, sources told ThePrint.

Jaishankar, on the other hand, is likely to “press strongly” that New Delhi will not tolerate an increase in terrorism on Afghan soil, thus reiterating India’s position under UN Security Council Resolution 2593, adopted in August last year during his presidency of the UN Security Council, sources added.

India has been in contact with the Taliban since the latter took power in Kabul in August last year. But it was in June of this year that New Delhi made the decision to reopen its embassy in Afghanistan by sending a “technical team” there.

Earlier that month, India had sent an official delegation to Kabul led by JP Singh, co-secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran Division) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MEA), who also met with Muttaqi. Singh is also part of the Indian delegation in Tashkent for the SCO Foreign Ministers meeting.

International Conference on Afghanistan

Muttaqi, meanwhile, has been in Tashkent since early this week as he also had to attend a special meeting on Afghanistan organized by the Uzbek government. The meeting was attended by more than 30 countries, including India.

The Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement: “The main aim of the event is to develop a series of measures and proposals for the global community’s approaches to stability, security, post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan and its integration into regional cooperation. to improve. processes in the interest of the multinational Afghan people and the entire world.”

MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing on Thursday that India “participated in that event (at an official level)”.

“It was a continuation of our efforts to engage with the international community on issues related to Afghanistan. At this conference, India reiterated its commitment to assist the Afghan people during this difficult time and to provide humanitarian aid. We also reiterated UNSC 2593 (during the meeting),” Bagchi added.

At the International Conference on Afghanistan, chaired by Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov, the Taliban Foreign Minister assured all international participants that the government in Kabul is working every day to ensure the security of Afghanistan, with a focus on reconstruction of the country. So Afghanistan is open for business, he said.

“Before we came to power, everyone called for an end to the violence in Afghanistan. Look, we’re discussing rebuilding our country and developing its economy… We want investment,” Muttaqi added.

On Thursday, Muttaqi also held a meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, during which the two discussed “political, economic and humanitarian cooperation” between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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