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9.5.2020 India urged to discuss concerns directly with the Taliban
 India should discuss its concerns on terrorism directly with the Taliban,
said U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay
Khalilzad.

India is an important force in Afghanistan and it would be appropriate
for that [India-Taliban] engagement to take place, Mr. Khalilzad told The
Hindu in an exclusive interview.

He added that he had discussed how India could play a more active role
in the Afghan reconciliation process during his talks in Delhi on
Thursday.

The envoy said India had a significant role in Afghanistans
development, but paradoxically, doesnt play a role in the international
peace efforts. India and Afghanistan have historic ties, and I believe
that dialogue between India and the Taliban is important, and it would be
important that issues of concern like this [terrorism] are raised
directly, he added

This is the first time the U.S. has publicly suggested an engagement
between India and the Taliban. New Delhi, that still considers the Taliban
a terror group allied to Pakistan, has thus far distanced itself from any
talks.

During their meeting on Thursday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar
and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had raised concerns over
increasing violence in Afghanistan and the need to protect minorities
including Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.

Mr. Khalilzad, the architect of the U.S.-Taliban agreement, travelled to
Doha, Delhi and Islamabad, in an effort to iron out an impasse in the
agreement over the release of prisoners and intra-Afghan negotiations.
While recognising concerns over the Doha agreement, he told The Hindu that
there was no alternative to it and hoped that India would engage all
forces in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.

The US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation left for
Doha, New Delhi and Islamabad, the U.S. State Department said on
Wednesday.

At each stop, he will urge support for an immediate reduction in
violence, accelerated timeline for the start of intra-Afghan negotiations
and cooperation among all sides in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in
Afghanistan, the State Department said.


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