Indian officials visit Kabul for first Taliban meet since US left

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India has sent a team of foreign ministry officials to Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul for talks with senior members of the ruling Taliban, the ministry said on Thursday, the first such meeting since the chaotic US withdrawal last year.

Poverty and hunger have rocketed in the strife-torn nation since the Taliban took power last year after the United States withdrew.

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“The Indian team will meet the senior members of the Taliban, and hold discussions on India’s humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan,” the ministry said in a statement.

The officials would oversee delivery of humanitarian assistance and visit areas targeted by Indian-backed programs or projects, it added.

India has donated about 20,000 tons of wheat, 13 tons of medicines, 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and winter clothing, with more medicine and foodgrain on the way, it said.

The South Asian nation pulled its officials out of Afghanistan last August and closed its embassy, although New Delhi is keen to retain ties with the country where its arch-enemy, Pakistan, wields considerable influence.

Last month the ministry said it had no information on when the embassy would re-open.

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