India back in game in Afghanistan, recent efforts play key role: EU special envoy

India back in game in Afghanistan, recent efforts play key role: EU special envoy thumbnail

India is back in the game in Afghanistan and its recent efforts, including Delhi Regional Security Dialogue, have played an important role in creating an opinion on addressing pressing issues of terrorism, radicalisation and humanitarian crisis, Tomas Niklasson, EU’s special envoy on Afghanistan, told ET.

“EU and India have convergence of views on Afghanistan. We have similar views on developments in Afghanistan,” Niklasson, who met key stakeholders from the MEA and National Security Council during a visit to India last week, told ET in an interview.

Niklasson met foreign secretary Harsh Shringla last Wednesday and exchanged views on the “current situation in Afghanistan” and agreed to “continue the ongoing coordination between India and EU on Afghanistan”.

The EU envoy, who recently held the first EU-Taliban interim government meeting in Doha ahead of his trip, described the Taliban as an ideologically driven movement, as it was between 1996 and 2001, and harped on the need to transform itself for its wider engagement. “We have to wait and watch if the Taliban can transform itself,” he said. Niklasson said it’s not only India that has concerns about Afghanistan soil being used for terrorism. “It’s one of the issues we are discussing. It’s one clear commitment by the Taliban-appointed interim government in Kabul to prevent this from happening. But we also see varying developments on the ground,” he said. The special envoy listed five principles for EU’s engagement with Taliban-creation of inclusive government; safe passage for Afghans; humanitarian issue; counter-terrorism; human and women rights in Afghanistan.

On the EU’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the envoy said the EU is preparing a $1 billion package for Afghanistan. “We have experience of working with international organisations, including the UN, to distribute aid in Afghanistan,” he said.

Niklasson also welcomed the Indian government’s offer to send humanitarian support of 50,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan.

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