Acting Afghan foreign minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi received the Indian delegation in Kabul and called it “a good beginning in ties between the two countries.”
The meeting focused on bilateral relations, trade and aid, Muttaqi’s spokesperson, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, said in a tweet. The Indian delegation was led by JP Singh, a secretary in the external affairs ministry.
Muttaqi expressed gratitude for Indian humanitarian and medical assistance to Afghanistan, stressing the importance of the resumption of projects by India, its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and the provision of consular services to Afghans, particularly to Afghan students and medical patients, Balkhi said.
Poverty and hunger have rocketed in Afghanistan since the Islamist militants took power after the United States pulled out, and India has sent food grains and other aid.
India sent 20,000 tons of wheat, 13 tons of medicines, 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines and winter clothing to Afghanistan to meet shortages there, the ministry of external affairs spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, said.
The aid was handed over to the Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul and UN agencies, including the World Health Organization and the World Food Program, he said in a statement, adding that more medicines and food were on the way.
Will India recognize the Taliban?
Asked if New Delhi now officially recognised the Taliban administration, Arindam Bagchi told reporters they were “reading far too much into the visit”.
“We are engaged with the international community on what is their expectation from the Taliban. We will continue to engage with the international community on issues relating to Afghanistan including the issue of recognition,” Bagchi said.
“India has historical and civilisational ties with Afghan people and those long-standing ties will continue to guide our approach to Afghanistan,” he said.
India pulled its officials out of Afghanistan last August and closed its embassy. Asked whether India will reopen its embassy in Kabul, Bagchi did not give a direct reply and said the local staff continued to function at the mission.
“Post August 15 last year, in the light of deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, it was decided to bring back all India-based officials. However, the local staff continued to function and ensure proper maintenance and upkeep of our premises there,” Bagchi said.
Before the Taliban took control, India provided Afghan security forces with training and military equipment but had no troops on the ground. It was also the region’s largest provider of development aid to Afghanistan.
India has no diplomatic presence left in Kabul after it evacuated its staff ahead of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August last year.
(With inputs from agencies)