India, US on same page on many issues relating to Afghanistan: Jaishankar

Jaishankar also noted that any question on according recognition to the Taliban dispensation has to be based on fulfilling of the commitments made by the group in the Doha agreement.

India was not taken into confidence on various aspects of the Doha deal struck between the US and the Taliban last year, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.

At the same time, Jaishankar said India and the US are on the same page on many issues relating to the recent developments in Afghanistan including apprehensions about the possible use of Afghan soil for terrorism.

Speaking virtually at the annual leadership summit of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), he also suggested that there are some aspects relating to the Afghan crisis where the positions of the two countries are not exactly the same.

“I think to some degree, we would all be justified in having levels of concern and to some degree, I think the jury is still out. When I say levels of concern, the commitments which were made by the Taliban at Doha, the US knows it best. We were not taken into confidence on various aspects of that,” he said.

The deal was signed between the US and the Taliban in Doha in February last year in which the US promised to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan while the Taliban committed to several conditions including ending violence.

The external affairs minister also noted that any question on according recognition to the Taliban dispensation has to be based on fulfilling of the commitments made by the group in the Doha agreement.

“I think we are on similar pages at a principle level on many of these issues, certainly say terrorism. The use of Afghan soil for terrorism is something both of us feel so strongly and it was something which was discussed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Joe Biden,” he said when asked about the position of the US and India towards the Afghan crisis.

The developments in Afghanistan figured in talks between Modi and Biden in Washington last week.

“There will be issues on which we will agree more, there will be issues on which we will agree less. Our experiences in some respects are different from yours (the US). We have been victims of cross-border terrorism ourselves from that region and that has shaped in many ways our view of some of the neighbours of Afghanistan,” he said, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

The external affairs minister said it is for the US to decide whether it shares that view, adding that India has concerns over the developments in Afghanistan.

Jaishankar said the most pertinent questions relating to Afghanistan are whether it will have an inclusive government and whether the rights of women, children and minorities are going to be ensured.

“Most importantly, are we going to see an Afghanistan whose soil is not used for terrorism against other states and the rest of the world. I think these are the concerns and these concerns were captured by a UN Security Council resolution in August,” he said.

“When we look at what happened in Afghanistan and the region, I think these are going to have very very significant consequences for all of us. And we are so close to the region. There are a set of concerns and issues that flow from that,” Jaishankar said.

To a question on recognising the Taliban dispensation, he suggested that New Delhi would take its time and study the situation.

On the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition, the external affairs minister said it has a broad agenda of cooperation including in the Indo-Pacific region. He said Quad should not be seen as “some kind of ganging up” against China.

Asked about India’s ties with the US, he said they are at an important juncture and that the discussions in Washington opened up many more new possibilities.

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