A high-level Indian delegation met with the Taliban foreign minister in Afghanistan and held discussions about humanitarian assistance and the use of Chabahar port by Afghan traders, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday.

JP Singh, the joint secretary heading the division for Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran in the Ministry of External Affairs, met the Taliban’s foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Thursday.

This was the first acknowledged meeting between senior officials of the two countries since the Taliban took over power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the Taliban foreign ministry spokesperson, said Singh told Muttaqi that India is interested in expanding political and economic cooperation with Afghanistan. Muttaqi, on his part, urged India to “facilitate visa issuance process for Afghan businessmen, patients and students”.

The Indian delegation also met former President Hamid Karzai, officials from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and members of the Afghan business community, foreign ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said.

The Taliban regime is yet to be recognised by any country, even though a number of governments globally engage with it.

India closed its embassy in Kabul after the insurgent group seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021. However, in June 2022, India deployed a technical team at its embassy in Kabul “for the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance and in continuation of our engagement with the Afghan people”.

In November 2023, the Afghanistan embassy in New Delhi closed its operations permanently due to “persistent challenges” from the Indian government and “constant pressure” from the Taliban regime in Kabul to relinquish control. The embassy was led by Ambassador Farid Mamundzay and mission staff appointed by the previous government of ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to issue visas and handle trade matters.