The Taliban on Wednesday met an Indian delegation on the sidelines of the Moscow Format talks in Russia, the Hindustan Times reported.
Afghanistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi led the Taliban team while the Indian delegation was headed by JP Singh, the joint secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs’ Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran division.
“Both sides considered it necessary to take into account each other’s concerns and improve diplomatic and economic relations,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
Mujahid added that India has expressed its willingness to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan, the newspaper reported.
Unidentified officials in the Indian government told The Hindu that the country is considering sending a consignment of wheat and other supplies to Afghanistan.
Ten countries, including China and Pakistan, participated in the third Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan on Wednesday. Russia has been organising the meeting since 2017 to discuss matters related to Afghanistan.
At the meeting, the participating countries “reiterated their respect to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan”, according to a joint statement shared by the Russian foreign ministry.
The countries also “reaffirmed their commitment to Afghanistan as a peaceful, indivisible, independent, economically developing State, free of terrorism and drug-related crime and respecting the basic norms in the human rights area”.
The participants said they were deeply concerned about the deteriorating “economic and humanitarian situation” in Afghanistan.
They suggested launching a collective initiative to convene an “international donor conference” for Afghanistan.
“The core burden of post-conflict economic and financial reconstruction and development of Afghanistan must be shouldered by troop-based actors [United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization] which were in the country for the past 20 years,” the 10 countries added.
The Taliban had seized control of Afghanistan on August 15 as the United States and its allies prepared to pull out their troops from the country after 20 years. The insurgent group’s return to power triggered turmoil in Afghanistan, with thousands of people leaving the country to escape their feared rule.
India and several other countries undertook missions to evacuate their citizens from the conflict-torn country.
In September, an interim Taliban government was formed in Afghanistan. The country’s new prime minister, Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, is on the sanctions list of the United Nations.