India holds talks with senior Taliban official, first since fall of Kabul

NEW DELHI: India’s ambassador to Qatar held talks with a top Taliban leader on Tuesday, the Indian foreign ministry said, the first formal engagement since the group took over Afghanistan.

The envoy, Deepak Mittal, met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of the Taliban’s Political Office in Doha at the request of the Taliban, the foreign ministry said.

India has long had concerns about the Taliban because of their close ties to arch rival Pakistan. The foreign ministry said the two sides discussed the safety of Indians left behind in Afghanistan.

“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 to India also came up,” read the statement issued by Indian foreign ministry.

Mittal also conveyed India’s fears that anti-India militants could use Afghanistan’s soil to mount attacks, the foreign ministry said.

The Taliban representative assured the ambassador that these issues would be positively addressed, it added. - Agencies