India, US Share Strong Interest In Peaceful, Secure Afghanistan: Antony Blinken

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Antony Blinken said both sides “largely” see Afghanistan in the same light (File)

New Delhi:

The US on Wednesday said that there can be no military solution to the Afghan conflict and India has and will continue to make vital contributions to Afghanistan’s stability and development as a leader and a critical American partner in the region.

Following talks between visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar, the two sides also made a strong push for the intra-Afghan peace process to end violence in Afghanistan and ensure that it does not become home to terrorism.

“We discussed regional security issues, as the minister noted, including Afghanistan. India and the United States share a strong interest in a peaceful, secure, and stable Afghanistan,” Blinken said at a joint press conference with Jaishankar.

“As a leader and critical partner in the region, India has made and will continue to make vital contributions to Afghanistan’s stability and development, and we’ll continue to work together to sustain the gains of the Afghan people and support regional stability after the withdrawal of coalition forces from the country,” he said.

Blinken said both sides “largely” see Afghanistan in the same light.

“There has to be a peaceful resolution which requires the Taliban and the Afghan government to come to the table, and we both agree, I think strongly, that any future government in Afghanistan has to be inclusive and fully representative of the Afghan people,” Blinken said.

“But ultimately, this has to be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process that we will all support,” he said.

The US Secretary of State said that both sides are committed to the proposition that there is no military solution to the conflict that afflicts Afghanistan, adding there has to be a peaceful resolution that requires the Taliban and the Afghan government to come to the table.

“Even as we withdraw our forces from Afghanistan and NATO and others withdraw their forces, we remain very much engaged in Afghanistan. We have not only a strong embassy there, but also important programs that continue to support Afghanistan economically, through development assistance, through security assistance. That remains,” Blinken said.

“And we are very much engaged in the diplomacy of working to bring the parties together at the table for a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” he added.

Referring to the Taliban’s violence, Blinken said an Afghanistan that does not respect the rights of its people, an Afghanistan that commits atrocities against its own people, would become a “pariah state”.

“The Taliban says that it seeks international recognition, that it wants international support for Afghanistan. Presumably, it wants its leaders to be able to travel freely in the world, sanctions lifted, et cetera,” he said.

The US Secretary of State said that taking over the country by force and abusing the rights of its people is not the path to achieve those objectives.

“There’s only one path, and that’s at the negotiating table to resolve the conflict peacefully and to have an Afghanistan emerge that is governed in a genuinely inclusive way and that’s representative of all its people,” he said.

Blinken, the third senior member of the Biden administration to visit India this year, arrived in the national capital on Tuesday evening on a two-day visit in the midst of a deteriorating security scenario in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops.

The US Secretary of State said that ultimately the peace process in Afghanistan has to be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, a position that has been pushed by India consistently for the last several years.

Jaishankar said it is essential that peace negotiations are taken seriously by all parties.

“The world wishes to see an independent, sovereign, democratic and stable Afghanistan at peace with itself and with its neighbours but its independence and sovereignty will only be ensured if it is free from malign influences,” he said.

“Similarly unilateral imposition of will by any party will obviously not be democratic and can never lead to stability nor indeed can such efforts ever acquire legitimacy,” he said.

Jaishankar said the gains to Afghan civil society especially on the rights of women, minorities and on social freedoms over the last two decades are self evident.

“We must collectively work to preserve them. Afghanistan must neither be home to terrorism nor resource of refugees,” he said.

On withdrawal of US troops, Jaishankar said it is natural there will be some consequences as the US had a robust military presence in Afghanistan for last 20 years.

Afghanistan has been witnessing a series of terror attacks since the US began withdrawing its troops on May 1.

The US has already pulled back the majority of its forces and is looking to complete the drawdown by August 31, ending nearly two-decade of its military presence in the country.

As the situation deteriorated in Afghanistan in the last few weeks, India has been in touch with leading international players as well as the Afghan government on the overall developments in the country.

India has been a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan.

It has already invested nearly USD three billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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