External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday told visiting US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo that India has stakes in Afghanistan’s stability, and that decision about the country’s future should be made by Afghans without use of force, sources said on Monday.
The two met at Hyderabad House, Delhi on Monday — a day before the third India-US 2+2 ministerial meeting on Tuesday.
Jaishankar also made it clear that cross-border terrorism was “completely unacceptable”, sources said.
His statements assume significance in the wake of the increased violence in Afghanistan in recent days, leading to hundreds of casualties among combatants from both sides as well as among Afghan civilians. The US said Monday it had conducted an airstrike in central Afghanistan, killing at least five Taliban fighters.
This has shattered the fragile peace, as talks between Afghan high peace council and the Taliban are underway in Doha.
After his meeting with Pompeo, Jaishankar tweeted, “Warm and productive meeting with @SecPompeo. Discussed key bilateral, regional and global issues. Reviewed progress in ties: grown substantially in every domain. Our foreign policy consultations and cooperation have expanded.”
“Working closely on plurilateral and multilateral formats. Looking forward to the 2+2 Dialogue tomorrow,” he wrote.
Pompeo tweeted, “Great discussion with @DrSJaishankar ahead of our third U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. We agree that the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership is critical to the security and prosperity of both our countries, the Indo-Pacific region, and the world.”
Jaishankar and Pompeo had met in Tokyo early this month, on the sidelines of the Quad foreign ministers’ meeting. Sources said on Monday, they followed up on their Tokyo discussions and focussed on key bilateral, regional and global issues.
Sources said the two reviewed the progress in bilateral ties over last four years and were “satisfied that they have grown in virtually every domain including trade, energy, defence and education”, that the “practice of consultations on foreign policy issues has also expanded, including regional and multilateral” and are working more closely in multilateral and plurilateral formats.
They said Jaishankar conveyed that “an innovation partnership is central to our future”, and “our policies must be accordingly supportive”. “Education is a special bond between us and both sides should work to expand it further”, he is learnt to have told Pompeo.
With an eye on China, they also exchanged views on the current global situation and its contemporary challenges and discussed their shared concerns and interests including stability and security in Asia, and how best that can be ensured, sources said.
In this context, Jaishankar and Pompeo followed up on their Indo-Pacific engagement and the Quad deliberations, and spoke about maritime security, counter-terrorism, open connectivity and resilient supply chains.
During the meeting, sources said Pompeo shared the US administration’s thinking on Afghanistan with Jaishankar. At this point, Jaishankar highlighted India’s stakes and its continuing concern that decisions should be made by Afghans themselves without use of force.
US State Department’s principal deputy spokesperson Cale Brown said Monday, “From addressing the shared challenges of Covid-19 and responding to regional security issues, to collaborating on vaccine development and economic prosperity, the Secretary and the Minister agreed that the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership is critical to the security and prosperity of both countries, the Indo-Pacific region, and the world.”
Secretary Pompeo welcomed India’s upcoming term on the UN Security Council and the opportunity for the United States and India to work closely together on issues of mutual and global concern. Both leaders looked forward to additional opportunities to further strengthen the US-India partnership,” Brown said.
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