India has established the first formal diplomatic contact with the Taliban ever since the group assumed power in Afghanistan, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said.
The country’s envoy, Deepak Mittal, met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of the Taliban's political office, at Doha in Qatar on August 31. The meeting took place at the request of the Taliban, according an MEA release.
"Discussions focused on safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan," it says.
Ambassador Mittal is said to have raised India's concern that Afghanistan's soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner. The Taliban Representative assured the Indian Ambassador that these issues would be positively addressed, the MEA said.
India believes that Haqqani Network, which has deep linkages with Pakistan spy agency ISI and India-centric terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, may use its proximity and participation in the Taliban government against India.
India has so far maintained that it will wait and watch the evolving situation in Afghanistan and has not declared its position on recognition of the new regime.
The talks come days after Stanekzai was quoted in the local press saying that the Taliban wanted political and economic ties with India.