Kabul: For the first time, India has made public diplomatic dialogue with the Taliban in Qatar discussing safety, security and the early return of Indian nationals stranded in the war-torn nation. As the US completed its withdrawal of security forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban formally initiated talks with India, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday.Also Read - Afghanistan's Banking System Close to Collapse; Survival Only Based on International Funds: Report

The ministry stated that Ambassador of India to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of Taliban’s Political Office in Doha. “The meeting took place at the Embassy of India, Doha, on the request of the Taliban side,” the ministry said. Also Read - Taliban Issue No-shave Order to Barbers in Afghan Province

“Discussions focused on safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit India also came up,” it said. Also Read - Russia Says It’s In Sync with United State, China, Pakistan on Taliban | Details Here

India raised concern that Afghanistan’s soil “should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner”. Stanekzai assured Ambassador Mittal that these issues would be positively addressed.

Stanekzai, known as Sheru was trained in the Indian Military Academy in 1982 and rose to the ranks of Deputy Health Minister during the Taliban regime. He later served as a chief peace negotiator for the group in Doha.

He was also Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Taliban regime. The 58-year-old Pashtun comes from the Stanekzai clan. He can speak five languages and he served as Taliban’s Political Office chief between 2015-2019.

So far, India was engaged with “important stakeholders in Afghanistan” without revealing the names of those involved and had adopted a “wait and watch” approach. “India is working with its key partners and is continuing engagement with the people of Afghanistan,” a PTI report, citing Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla stated.

Taliban had seized the war-ravaged country’s capital Kabul on August 15 after then President, Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

On August 30, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Afghanistan, aiming to prevent the use of Afghan soil by terrorist organisations against any country. The resolution was adopted with 13 votes in favour while Russia and China preferred to abstain.

With Agency inputs