The Afghan sides should ensure that Afghanistan’s territory must not be used by any terror group against any country, the US said on Tuesday soon after its special envoy for the Afghan peace process Zalmay Khalilzad held extensive talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval here.
Indian government sources said Khalilzad appreciated India’s participation in the opening ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha last week and shared the US perspective on the Afghan peace process.
Khalilzad arrived here on Tuesday to discuss the historic Afghan peace talks with Indian leaders. It was his fifth visit to India since January last year.
In a statement, the US said both it and India share the view that the peace process in Afghanistan must continue until there is an agreement on a political roadmap and a “comprehensive and permanent ceasefire”.
On Saturday, an Indian delegation attended the inaugural ceremony of the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha while Jaishankar joined it through video conference.
The Taliban and the Afghan government are holding direct talks for the first time to end 19 years of war that has killed tens of thousands of people and ravaged various parts of the country. The US’ view that the territory of Afghanistan must not be used by any terrorist group against any other country appeared to be in sync with India’s long-held position.
In his address at the inaugural ceremony of intra-Afghan negotiations, Jaishankar too said India expects that the soil of Afghanistan is never used for any anti-India activities.
There have been apprehensions in India over the possibility of use of Afghan soil for anti-India activities if a new dispensation that is friendly to Pakistan emerges from the intra-Afghan negotiations. “Glad to receive Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad @US4AfghanPeace this evening.
Useful discussions on the Doha Meeting and its follow-up,” Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting with Khalilzad. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla was also present during the talks.
The US embassy said Khalilzad discussed the recently inaugurated Afghan peace negotiations.?
“The US and India share the view that the peace process must continue until there is agreement on a political roadmap and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire. The Afghan sides should ensure their territory must not be used by any terrorist group against any other country,”
the US embassy said.
“The US and India expressed similar views on the importance of long term assistance, trade, and investment for consolidating a peace agreement for the benefit of the people of Afghanistan, the region, and beyond,” it added.
The US said Ambassador Khalilzad stressed that regional and international support is critical for the success of the negotiations and the implementation of any agreement, adding that India and the US will work together in support of this objective.
The Indian government sources said the two sides discussed future steps and possible cooperation between India and the US in furthering the Afghan peace process.
They also deliberated upon how to promote regional and international cooperation with regard to Afghanistan, the sources said.
“Today’s discussions are a reflection of the India-US strategic partnership which provides for close consultations between the two countries on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest,” said a source.
Khalilzad visited Islamabad on Monday where he met Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed the Afghan peace process among other issues India has been a major stakeholder in peace and stability in 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 US inked 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.
The US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan since late 2001. 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 communities for a prosperous and safe future.