India attends regional meet on Afghanistan

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India on Thursday joined a regional conclave hosted by Qatar to discuss ways to contain the escalating situation in Afghanistan in the backdrop of the Taliban’s continued offensive across the country.

J P Singh, the Joint Secretary in the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran division in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), represented India at the meeting, officials said.

MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said several important stakeholders in Afghanistan attended the meeting.

The invitation for the meeting to India was extended by Qatari special envoy for conflict resolution Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani during his visit to the national capital last week, Bagchi said.

Al-Qahtani, the Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of Qatar for Counter-terrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution, visited India ostensibly to discuss the latest developments in Afghanistan.

He met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Singh.

“We are committed to the long-term development of Afghanistan. We would like to see a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan,” Bagchi said at a media briefing.

Qatar’s capital Doha has been the venue for the intra-Afghan peace talks and the Gulf country has emerged as a crucial player in facilitating the Afghan peace process.

The Taliban has been making rapid advances across Afghanistan by resorting to widespread violence since the United States began withdrawing its troops from the country on May 1.

The US has already pulled back the majority of its forces and is looking to complete the drawdown by August 31.

India has been engaged with a number of stakeholders and leading powers on the latest developments in Afghanistan.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process that is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

It has also been calling upon all sections of the political spectrum in Afghanistan to work together to meet the aspirations of all people in the country, including those from the minority communities, for a prosperous and safe future.

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