Press Trust of india

Head of Afghan peace council thanks India for continued support to Afghanistan

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New Delhi:  Head of Afghanistan’s peace council Abdullah Abdullah held talks with a senior Indian official in Doha, covering various aspects of the historic dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government that has kickstarted in the Qatari capital.

The meeting between Abdullah and JP Singh, Joint Secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) in the External Affairs Ministry took place on the sidelines of the peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

“Had a good meeting with J P Singh, JS (PAI), Ministry of External Affairs of India,” the influential Afghan leader said on Twitter.

“We took stock of the developments on the peace efforts, & the need for genuine regional & international support for talks. I also thanked India for its continued support,” he added.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is expected to visit India on Tuesday to hold discussions with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on the Afghan peace talks.

The Taliban and the Afghan government are holding direct talks for the first time to end 19 years of war that has killed tens of thousands of people and ravaged various parts of the country.

On Saturday, Singh led an official delegation at the inaugural ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha while External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar joined it through video conference.

In his address at the ceremony, Jaishankar said India expects that the soil of Afghanistan is never used for any anti-India activities.

There have been apprehensions in India over the possibility of use of Afghan soil for anti-India activities if a new dispensation friendly to Pakistan emerges from the intra-Afghan negotiations.

“Our friendship with Afghanistan is strong and unshaken, we have always been good neighbours and will always be so. Our expectation is that the soil of Afghanistan should never be used for any anti-India activities,” Jaishankar said in his brief address.

Last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani agreed to release 400 Taliban prisoners, paving the way for the beginning of the long-awaited peace process aimed at ending nearly two-decades of conflict in the war-torn country.

India has been a major stakeholder in peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested USD two billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

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

The US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan since late 2001.

India has also been maintaining that care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any “ungoverned spaces” where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.

India has been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of all people in that country including those from the minority community for a prosperous and safe future.

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