US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad called on Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar and conveyed that Washington welcomed India’s engagement in regional and international efforts in war-torn Afghanistan.
According to a report published by Indian news agency – ANI, the US special envoy spoke on the urgency of resolving the political crisis in Afghanistan and the importance of Afghan leaders forming an inclusive Government.
Khalilzad in his tweet said he had reached out to Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and discussed the Afghan peace process and talked about the current political crisis in Afghanistan and the importance of forming an inclusive Government.
Khalilzad added that he had told the Indian minister that the US welcomed Indian engagement in regional and international efforts for lasting peace in Afghanistan and that the US is committed to a sustained dialogue with India on the matter.
The two officials also talked on the prisoner swap agreement between the Afghan Government and the Taliban. As part of the US-Taliban peace deal, the Afghanistan Government has to release 5000 prisoners while the Taliban has to release 1000 for the negotiations to start. So far the Afghan Government has released 661 terrorists while the insurgent group has freed 20 captives.
The envoy added that the two discussed the importance of a speedy prisoner swap and supported the reduction in violence and the start of the negotiations between the two warring factions. Khalilzad also said that the two officials discussed the immediate and long term impact of coronavirus.
Jaishankar in return tweeted that Khalilzad had updated him on the recent developments in Afghanistan. The Indian External Affairs Minister also said that he had shared the Indian perspective and told his US counterpart that India’s historical friendship with close ties to Afghanistan will guide its Afghan policy.
The outreach by the US’ special envoy has come at a time of growing concern in India about the escalation in violence in Afghanistan post the signing of the peace deal and also in the backdrop of a recent six-nation discussion on the Afghan crisis, where New Delhi was sidelined.
India is particularly apprehensive about the presence of Pakistan sponsored terror groups such as Al-Qaeda, Laskar-e-Taiba, and Jaish-e-Mohamad in Afghanistan. Taliban’s unwillingness to disassociate itself from these terror groups has worried India as they have frequently targetted Delhi’s interests both in Afghanistan and India.
According to a report by a section of Indian media, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has welcomed America’s gesture to include India in the ongoing negotiation process. The Afghan President who met with Indian envoy to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar told the Hindu that he had always hoped and supported India’s involvement in the peace process from the beginning keeping in view the traditional friendship between the two nations for a sovereign and united Afghanistan with a strong Government.