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US, India say against military takeover of war-torn Afghanistan

NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Thursday informed the Rajya Sabha that he had a very detailed discussion with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and they both agreed that there cannot be a takeover of the war-torn country by use of force.
Addressing the upper house, the minister said, “We (Indian leadership) highlighted that in our approach to global issues we’re guided by quest for perfect union but we seek to right historical wrongs. When it comes to freedom, we shouldn’t treat it as non-governance or abdication of responsibilities. Our conversation on this should be balanced.” Regarding the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, EAM Jaishankar said, “That there can’t be a military solution, there can’t be a takeover by use of force in Afghanistan. We’ll work with international community to ensure that political negotiations for a settlement are pursued seriously and we would never accept an outcome which is decided by force.”
Blinken, during his two-day India visit, discussed a range of bilateral and regional issues including Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific and COVID-19 cooperation.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and India’s Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (R) hold a joint news conference at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan in New Delhi.

During Blinken’s visit, Jaishankar said he articulated India’s position at a presser that was jointly held with the US Secretary of State. “We were very clear that there must be a negotiated, political settlement in Afghanistan.”
“We (EAM & US Secy of State) had a very detailed discussion on Afghanistan. I articulated our position at a press conference that was jointly held with the visiting US Secy of State. We were very clear that there must be a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan.”
The minister further added that there was a “very strong convergence in our (India and US) positions on this matter.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Jaishankar had underlined the importance of peace negotiations in Afghanistan and spoke against the unilateral “imposition of will” in the war-torn country while calling for preserving the gains made over the past two decades.
During a joint presser with Blinken, Jaishankar had said, “The gains to Afghan civil society, especially rights of women, minorities and social freedom — over the last two decades are self-evident. Afghanistan must never be home to terrorism, nor become a source of refugees.”

Stronger India-US ties

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his India visit on Wednesday, expressed Biden administration’s intent to grow stronger bilateral ties with New Delhi and stressed on the importance of cooperation on various issues including COVID-19 and climate change.

“We have seen over the last couple of decades that the relationship has grown stronger and deeper across multiple administrations in both countries. President Biden’s determination is to continue to grow stronger the relationship between India and the US,” Blinken said in his opening remarks ahead of his meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

New Delhi, July 28 (ANI): US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI Photo)

“There isn’t a challenge that doesn’t have an impact on lives of our citizens whether it’s COVID, changing climate, the disruptive impact of emerging technologies, that can be addressed by any one of us acting alone. There’s a greater imperative on cooperation among countries than ever before,” he said.

EAM Jaishankar, meanwhile, expressed confidence that Blinken’s visit will be productive and the quality of the discussions will fully reflect the strength of bilateral relations.

“Our bilateral cooperation has vastly expanded in the last few years. Our interests are shared, our concerns are similar and our convergences are strong. Talks today will provide an updated direction to our colleagues to translate these into practical outcomes,” EAM Jaishankar added.

Engage in Afghanistan

Even as the US withdrew its forces from Afghanistan, they will remain engaged in Afghanistan, said Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State on Wednesday.

“We have not only a strong embassy there but also have important programmes that support the country economically through development and security assistance,” Blinken said at the end of talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar in New Delhi.

New Delhi, July 28 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (ANI Photo)

The top US diplomat was responding to a question on Afghanistan as US troops pull out and the Taliban invade the cities amid concerns of deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan and fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

“We are very much engaged in the diplomacy of working to bring parties together at the table for the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan,” added the US State Secretary. 

The timing of Blinken’s remarks is significant. On Tuesday, frontline Taliban leader Mullah Baradar Akhund met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to seek the support of Beijing in expanding its footprint in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban says that it seeks international recognition, that it wants international support for Afghanistan, presumably, it wants its leaders to travel freely in the world and sanctions lifted, etc,” Blinken said, adding that violence is not the path to achieve their objective. (ANI)