Jaishankar holds talks with US Special Representative for Afghanistan in Qatar

·3-min read

Doha, Jun 15 (PTI) In a surprise move, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday met US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad here in Qatar’s capital and exchanged perspectives on the war-torn nation and the region during his second visit to the key Gulf nation in a week.

India, a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan, has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

'Met with @US4AfghanPeace Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha. Continued our exchange of perspectives on Afghanistan and the region,' Jaishankar tweeted.

The meeting with Khalilzad was not previously announced by the External Affairs Ministry.

The US and the Taliban signed a landmark deal in Doha on February 29, 2020 after multiple rounds of negotiations to bring lasting peace in war-torn Afghanistan and allow US troops to return home from America's longest war.

India has been keenly following the evolving political situation after the US signed the peace deal with the Taliban. The deal provided for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, effectively drawing curtains on Washington's 18-year war with Taliban in the country.

In early March, Jaishankar and Khalilzad spoke over phone and discussed the developments pertaining to the Afghan peace talks. In the same month, Jaishankar attended the 9th Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference in Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe, where he voiced 'grave concern” over violence and bloodshed in Afghanistan and said that there is need for a genuine ‘double peace’ in and around the war-torn country.

The negotiating parties should engage in good faith, with a serious commitment towards reaching a political solution, he told the conference which was also attended by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Jaishankar also said that India has been supportive of all the efforts being made to accelerate the dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban, including intra-Afghan negotiations.

India remains committed to steadfastly supporting Afghanistan during its transition. Its development partnership of USD 3 billion, including more than 550 Community Development Projects covering all 34 provinces, is aimed at making Afghanistan a self-sustaining nation, he said.

In November also, Jaishankar and Khalilzad had held talks during the latter's India visit on the historic peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government and related issues.

On September 12, 2020, an Indian delegation attended the inaugural ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha while Jaishankar joined it through a video conference.

Jaishankar also met his Jordanian and Palestinian counterparts Ayman Safadi and Dr Riyad al-Maliki at Doha airport on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Jaishankar met Qatar’s foreign and defence ministers and discussed bilateral cooperation with them and exchanged views on global and regional issues.

'Good to meet DPM & FM @MBA_AlThani of Qatar in Doha today. Appreciated Qatar's solidarity during the Covid second wave. Discussed our bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on regional issues,' he tweeted.

He also met another Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah and discussed global and regional developments with him.

On his way to Kuwait, Jaishankar had a brief stopover in Doha on June 9 during which he met Qatar's National Security Advisor Mohamed Bin Ahmed Al Mesned and thanked him for the Gulf nation's support and solidarity in India’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jaishankar arrived here from Kenya where he was on a three-day visit to strengthen India's relations with the major East African country. He called on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and handed over a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to him. PTI ZH AKJ ZH ZH

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