Focus Afghanistan: EAM Jaishankar Tele Talks with Iranian, UK and Canadian counterparts

New Delhi: Post-US withdrawal from Afghanistan, all matters related to this war-hit country are now the talk of the town, especially at diplomatic levels.

On the eve of his three-national tour of Slovenia, Croatia and Denmark, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar kept himself busy on Wednesday (September 1) and held crucial rounds of tele talks with his counterparts in Iran, Britain and Canada.

“A warm congratulatory call to Iranian Foreign Minister H.. Amirabdollahian,” Jaishankar tweeted, adding that both sides agreed to strengthen the bilateral cooperation. “Discussed pressing regional issues. Appreciate Iran’s facilitation of our repatriation flights from Afghanistan,” he wrote. He also received a call from the Canadian counterpart Marc Garneau. Both of them had a “good discussion on the challenges of Afghanistan”, Jaishankar wrote on the microblogging site.. In another message, the External Affairs Minister wrote: “Nice speaking again to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. “Conversation focused on Afghanistan related developments,” he wrote.

These three interactions have their own significance, respectively, as the three nations are crucial players in regional and global contexts.

Canada has announced that it would not recognise the incoming Taliban-led dispensation in Kabul. “The use of force by the Taliban is completely unacceptable, and that’s why today I am announcing that a Conservative government will not recognise the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month within days of the fall of Kabul.

Iran is always a crucial player in the region as it shares borders with Afghanistan and is strategically not disinclined to have formal ties with the Taliban. The IS considers Shias as infidels, and this never went down well with Iran. Taliban has been a monopoly of Sunnis, and Iran is a well known Shia powerhouse.

The United Kingdom had played a crucial role at the UNSC meeting on August 30, which adopted the resolution on the Afghanistan situation. The UK has also launched talks with the Taliban to secure safe passage out of Afghanistan for a number of British nationals and Afghans. The talks involving UK officials and senior Taliban members are taking place in Doha, Qatar.

On Tuesday, for the first time making it formal, in a statement, the MEA acknowledged that Indian envoy to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, has met a senior Taliban representative, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai. Indian officials, however, say just interaction is not recognition of the Taliban regime by the Modi government.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on Indo-US 2+2 meeting likely to be held soon. The United States would host the crucial meet this year. Coming after the fall of Afghanistan, the meeting would have crucial significance for both sides.  

In September 2020, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs Dr S. Jaishankar hosted the then US Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo, and Secretary of Defence, Mark T. Esper for the meet in New Delhi for the third annual India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. The India-U.S. relationship has been elevated now to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership status.

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