New Delhi/Kabul, June 2 (EFE).- India Thursday said a foreign ministry delegation was in Afghanistan for “humanitarian assistance” talks with the de facto Taliban government – a first meeting between the two sides since the Islamist militia seized power in Kabul last year.
An External Affairs Ministry statement said the team, led by the joint secretary of the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran desk, would “oversee the delivery operations of our humanitarian assistance” to the war-torn country.
“The Indian team will meet senior members of the Taliban, and hold discussions on India’s humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” the statement said.
A Taliban official confirmed that the Indian delegation was on a visit to Afghanistan and would meet with government officials.
“We confirm the Indian delegation’s visit to Afghanistan and it is proposed that they will meet with some of the Islamic Emirate officials,” spokesperson Bilal Karimi told EFE in Kabul.
India has no known diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after it shut down its embassy in Kabul and consulates in other regions following the withdrawal of the United States and the Taliban’s chaotic takeover on Aug.15, 2021.
A wary India is trying to balance its ties with the Taliban that has traditionally been closer to Pakistan and relies on Islamabad for its international recognition as the legitimate government in Kabul.
The foreign ministry statement recalled that India has extended humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people and dispatched several shipments of wheat, medicines, anti-covid vaccines, and winter clothing.
The consignments were handed over to the Indira Gandhi Children Hospital in Kabul and the United Nations food and health agencies.
India is in “the process of shipping more medical assistance and food grains to Afghanistan,” the statement noted.
India has close ties with the Western-backed government led by self-exiled President Ashraf Ghani and was the largest development aid donor to Afghanistan.
The South Asian country, in its pursuit of a larger role in the strategic region, had invested billions of dollars in Afghan infrastructure development projects besides training the security forces who fought a bloody two-decade war against the Taliban. EFE