India diplomats visited Afghanistan to oversee humanitarian assistance operations in the country, the Union Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

They also met Taliban leaders for the first time since the insurgent group took over Kabul in August. 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.

“During the visit, the team will meet representatives of the international organisations involved in the distribution of the humanitarian assistance,” the Centre said on Thursday. “In addition, the team is expected to visit various places where Indian programmes or projects are being implemented.”

India has sent 20,000 metric tonnes of wheat, 13 tonnes of medicines, 5 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccine and winter clothing to Afghanistan for over a year.

While India has never clearly spoken about recognising the Taliban government, it has continuously offered humanitarian support to the Afghanistan.

In September, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that India is willing to stand by the Afghans just as it did in the past.

Jaishankar stated that India has invested over $3 billion (or Rs 23,000 crore) in the welfare of the Afghans and has undertaken 500 projects of power, water supply and road connectivity.

At a regional security dialogue hosted by India in November, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval called for greater cooperation on the situation in Kabul.

In a joint statement, high-ranking security officials of India, Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan said they would respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and integrity. They added that the countries would not interfere in Kabul’s internal matters.

The countries also expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and highlighted the need to provide assistance. They said the rights of women, children and minority communities should be protected.