India on Tuesday admitted holding diplomatic talks with a Taliban representative in Doha, Qatar.
The Indian ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, met the head of Taliban’s political office in the Gulf state, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, according to a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs. They met at the Indian Embassy in Doha, the statement said.
India raised concerns over the use of Afghanistan’s territory by terrorists, while Stanekzai assured Mittal that these issues would be positively addressed, according to the release.
“Discussions focused on safety, security, and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit India also came up,” it said.
Just In: India officially talks to Taliban.
Indian envoy in Qatar Deepak Mittal meets Taliban leader Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanekzai in Doha.@IndianExpress
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“Ambassador Mittal raised India’s concern that Afghanistan’s soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner.”
India was earlier engaged with “important stakeholders in Afghanistan”, and had adopted a “wait and watch” approach, a PTI report had said, referring to a briefing to an all-party meeting by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
“India is working with its key partners and is continuing engagement with the people of Afghanistan,” the report had said citing Shringla.
Stanikzai, a Pashtun, was reportedly born in 1963 in Baraki Barak district in Afghanistan. He trained with the Indian Army between 1979 and 1982 in the Army Cadet College, Nowgaon, and then at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. “He was part of a different company and battalion, but we were in the same batch. I remember him as being quite unremarkable, in the sense that he blended in,” Brigadier Sandeep Thapar (Retd), Stanikzai’s 1982 batchmate, told The Print website.