New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Haneef Atmar on Monday held wide-ranging talks with a focus on the peace process in Afghanistan, and boosting cooperation in areas of security, connectivity and trade.
Atmar arrived here on Monday afternoon on a three-day visit against the backdrop of renewed efforts to speed up the Afghan peace process.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Jaishankar reiterated India’s long-term commitment towards making Afghanistan a united, peaceful and prosperous constitutional democracy respecting the will of its people.
“Taking India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership forward. EAM @DrSJaishankar warmly welcomed @MHaneefAtmar. Issues of bilateral & regional interest including development cooperation, trade & investment, regional connectivity, security cooperation and peace process were discussed,” he tweeted.
The Afghan foreign minister’s visit to India came days after Russia hosted a conference between Afghan government and the Taliban in Moscow, and pressed for a ceasefire in the war-ravaged country.
“Arrived in beautiful & historic city of Delhi for a 3-day working visit,” Atmar said on Twitter.
The Afghan foreign minister said he was looking forward to holding talks with Jaishankar and senior Indian officials on the Afghan peace process as well as on security and economic cooperation.
The Afghan foreign ministry said the purpose of Atmar’s visit to India is to discuss bilateral relations, strengthen regional and international consensus on the Afghan peace process, and enhance cooperation in security, economic, political and cultural spheres.
It said besides holding talks with Jaishankar, Atmar is scheduled to meet a number of high-ranking Indian government officials, including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
There have been renewed international efforts in the last few weeks to speed up the peace process in Afghanistan that was spurred by increasing violence by Taliban in recent months though the outfit is engaged in negotiations with the Afghan government.
The Afghan peace process figured among other issues during talks between Jaishankar and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday.
Afghanistan’s top peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah had visited India in October and discussed with India’s top leadership about the peace initiative to bring back peace and stability in the war-ravaged country.
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at a virtual meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, called for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire to end violence in Afghanistan.
The Taliban and the Afghan government are holding direct talks in Doha to end 19 years of war that has killed tens of thousands of people and ravaged various parts of the country.
India has been a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested USD two billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.
India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
India has been keenly following the evolving political situation after the then Trump administration signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February. The deal provided for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, effectively drawing curtains to Washington’s 18-year war in the country.
India has also been maintaining that care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any “ungoverned spaces” where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.
India has been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of all people in that country including those from the minority community for a prosperous and safe future.
India has already invested over USD two billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.
In November, India announced a new package of over 100 high impact community projects worth USD 80 million for Afghanistan.