Afghan Foreign Minister’s Visit Will Help India Figure Way Forward in Taliban Peace Talks

Afghanistan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar
Afghanistan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar

Afghanistan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar’s visit to India Monday assumes considerable significance in the light of the Joe Biden-led US administration’s fresh approach to the Taliban peace talks, which includes a larger role for New Delhi.

Strategic and diplomatic sources told ThePrint that hectic talks and negotiations have been underway to bring long-lasting peace to war-torn Afghanistan, from where the US intends to withdraw its troops by 1 May, as originally decided under the previous administration headed by Donald Trump. However, Washington is yet to clearly spell out its Afghanistan strategy.

On his visit to India, Atmar will not only meet his counterpart, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar but is also expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The official itinerary, though, has not yet been announced.

Critical talking points

According to the sources, the visit will be crucial for several reasons.

First, the letter written by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani earlier this month made it clear that the US would like to see the establishment of an interim government that will essentially bring the Taliban representatives at par with the elected government.

Such a move has been vehemently opposed by Ghani. “Be assured that as long as I am alive, they will not see the formation of an interim government. I am not like those willows that bend with the wind,” Ghani had reportedly said.

In his meetings with senior Indian officials, Atmar will be carrying the same message, and will seek to garner New Delhi’s support in resisting Washington’s push for setting up a provisional government, sources told ThePrint.