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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Indian officials visit Kabul for first Taliban meeting since US departure

NEW DELHI: India has sent a team of foreign ministry officials to Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul for talks with senior members of the ruling Taliban, the first such meeting since the chaotic US withdrawal last year.

“The Indian team will meet the senior members of the Taliban, and hold discussions on India’s humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” the ministry said in a statement.

The officials would oversee delivery of humanitarian assistance and visit areas targeted by Indian-backed programmes or projects, it added.

India has donated about 20,000 tonnes of wheat, 13 tonnes of medicines, 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and winter clothing, with more medicine and foodgrain on the way, it said.

“These consignments were handed over to the India Gandhi Children Hospital, Kabul and UN specialised agencies including WHO and WFP. Furthermore, India is in the process of shipping more medical assistance and foodgrains to Afghanistan.”

The Ministry went on to say in the statement that in continuation with the developmental partnership with Afghanistan, India has given one million doses of India-made COVAXIN to Iran to administer to Afghan refugees in Iran.

“We have also assisted Unicef by supplying almost 60 million doses of polio vaccine and two tonnes of essential medicines. India’s development and humanitarian assistance has received a widespread appreciation across the entire spectrum of Afghan society,” the statement added.

According to the Ministry, the Indian team will also meet senior members of the Taliban, and hold discussions on New Delhi’s humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

India pulled its officials out of Afghanistan last August and closed its embassy, although New Delhi is keen to retain ties with the country where its arch-enemy, Pakistan, wields considerable influence. Last month the ministry said it had no information on when the embassy would reopen.

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