The United States on Thursday backed continued Indian involvement in Afghanistan even as the Donald Trump administration looks to withdraw troops from the conflict-ridden country.
India is one of Afghanistan’s closest allies, and has contributed more than $3 billion (Rs 21,521 crore at current exchange rates) since the 2001 invasion led by the United States, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, toppled the Taliban regime. It also built the country’s new Parliament.
“The United States welcomes India’s substantial investment in and assistance to Afghanistan,” Nancy Izzo Jackson, the US State Department official in charge of Afghanistan, said at an event at Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. “And we will continue to support efforts to achieve an honorable and enduring outcome in Afghanistan that preserves our investment in Afghanistan’s future.”
India’s Ambassador to the US, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, said any resolution of the Afghan conflict needs to ensure that “there is no room for any terrorist elements to create a foothold”.
“It is also important to deliver the message to terrorists that democracies do not surrender to terrorism and in the ideological battle of the ‘emirate’ versus the ‘republic’, the latter prevails,” he added.
The United States has been involved in negotiations on and off with the Taliban to bring the conflict in the country to an end in exchange for withdrawal for American and NATO troops. In September, Donald Trump said he had cancelled the talks after the Islamist insurgents admitted they were behind the killing of an American soldier.
However, last month it was reported that the US had moved to restart dialogue. According to reports, Zalmay Khalilzad, Trump’s chief negotiator, met the leader of the Taliban’s representatives, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Pakistan. The officials discussed either a prisoner swap or a truce as a confidence-building measure to restart talks.