September 16, 2020 1:55:40 am
The US Special envoy on the Afghanistan peace process, Zalmay Khalilzad, met External Affairs minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Tuesday and told them that the Afghan sides “should ensure their territory must not be used by any terrorist group against any other country”.
This was an important statement coming from the top US interlocutor, who has stitched together the reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Sources in New Delhi said Khalilzad had “called on the External Affairs Minister in the presence of NSA and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla”.
An official statement issued by the US embassy said, “The United States and India share the view that the peace process must continue until there is agreement on a political roadmap and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire. The Afghan sides should ensure their territory must not be used by any terrorist group against any other country.”
Subtle shift in engaging with Taliban
Signalling a carefully calibrated shift in its position on engaging with the Taliban, India had participated in the commencement ceremony of intra-Afghan talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban — the Intra-Afghan Negotiations (IAN) — in Doha on Saturday. US special envoy Khalizad appreciated India's participation and briefed about the US assessment of IAN and shared the country’s perspective on the Afghan peace process. The two sides are learnt to have discussed future steps and possible cooperation between India and the US in furthering the Afghan peace process.
Khalilzad stressed “regional and international support is critical for the success of these negotiations and the implementation of any agreement. India and the United States will work together in support of this objective”.
The US and India expressed similar views on the importance of long term assistance, trade, and investment for consolidating a peace agreement for the benefit of the people of Afghanistan, the region, and beyond, the statement released by the embassy said.
This was Khalilzad’s fifth visit to India since January 2019. On May 7, he had visited India on a similar mission.
Khalilzad had met the top brass in Islamabad on Monday.
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