We're Tracking Situation in Afghanistan: Indian Foreign Minister Breaks Silence on Taliban Talks
05:37 GMT 19.08.2021 (Updated: 10:38 GMT 19.07.2022)
© AP Photo / Manish SwarupIndian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar addresses a press conference on the performance of the ministry of external affairs in first 100 days of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's new term in office in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019
© AP Photo / Manish Swarup
The BJP-led federal government in India has been slammed by various opposition leaders for delaying talks with the Taliban* – while the country's strategy in dealing with the Afghanistan situation has been blasted as "flawed." Up until now, the Ministry of External Affairs refused to comment on any discussions with the Islamist group.
After repeated refusals to divulge any information about talks with the Taliban amid the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan, the Indian government has now expressed its desire to talk directly to the militant group.
In a press conference held on the sidelines of United Nations Security Council meeting on UN Peacekeeping, India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar replied to a question asking if Delhi has had any communication with the Taliban in recent days.
"At this point of time we are looking at what is the evolving situation in Kabul. Obviously, the Taliban and its representatives have come to Kabul. I think we need to take it on from there," Jaishankar said.
The Ministry of External Affairs has so far been avoiding such questions from Indian media.
During a presser held last week, the ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said "We are in touch with all stakeholders with regard to Afghanistan – different stakeholders. I will not add anything further."
Jaishankar, who is currently in the US, on Wednesday chaired the UNSC Open Debate on Technology and Peacekeeping in the presence of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and other participating nations. The minister has cut short his American visit following event unfolding in Afghanistan.
The external affairs minister's comments on the need to talk to Taliban leaders come a day after the militant group halted all imports and exports with India after entering Kabul and taking over the presidential palace.
"Some of the goods are exported from international north south transport corridor route which is fine as of now. Some of the goods go through Dubai route which is also working," Director General of the Federation of Indian Export Organisation Dr. Ajay Sahai told the ANI news agency said.
India has long-standing trade relations with Afghanistan and is one of its biggest partners. Indian exports to the country total around $835 million to date alone in 2021, while imports account for $510 million. Export goods include sugar, pharmaceuticals, apparel, tea, coffee, spices, and transmission towers. Imports are mostly dry fruits and onions – with nearly 85 percent of dry fruits being imported from Afghanistan.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries