India and representatives of the interim Taliban government met on the sidelines of the third meeting of the Moscow Format of consultations on Afghanistan.
According to a media report, during the meeting held on Wednesday, both sides focussed on New Delhi’s humanitarian aid while improving diplomatic contacts even as official recognition will not be provided soon.
The Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary at Ministry of External Affairs JP Singh while the Taliban delegation was led by Maulavi Abdul Salam Hanafi, Deputy PM of the interim Afghanistan government.
The Taliban in a statement claimed that both sides “took into account each other’s concerns and improve diplomatic and economic relations”.
According to the Taliban, India has assured of providing humanitarian assistance.
The report said the meeting did not focus on the recognition of the Taliban amid reservations on the issue by both Russia and India.
Russia, which favours contact with the Taliban, is not keen to recognise the group in a haste, the report said.
India, Russia, Tajikistan and Iran have rued lack of an inclusive government in Afghanistan.
A joint statement issued after the Moscow Format meeting noted that the participants focussed on the contacts with the Taliban government without officially recognising it.
The joint statement reads: “It was stated that further practical engagement with Afghanistan needed to take into account the new reality, that is the Taliban coming to power in the country, irrespective of the official recognition of the new Afghan government by the international community.”
The participating countries urged the Taliban leadership to take further steps to improve governance and form a truly inclusive government that adequately reflects the interests of all major ethno-political forces in the country.
This was the second such bilateral meeting between India and the Taliban after Indian envoy to Qatar Deepak Mittal’s meeting with Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban’s deputy foreign minister, in Doha held a month ago.
Another report quoted Zabihullah Mujahid, an official spokesperson of the Taliban-ruled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as saying about the meeting, “The delegation of the Islamic Emirate met with the special representative of India for Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
The two sides emphasised the need to take into account each other’s concerns and improve diplomatic and economic relations, the Taliban spokesperson said.