US defence secretary, Jaishankar discuss Afghanistan ground situation – Times of India

NEW DELHI: India and US held discussions on the situation in Afghanistan during a meeting between foreign minister S Jaishankar and visiting US defence secretary Gen Lloyd Austin on Saturday with the Indian side appreciating the Biden administration’s engagement with India on the issue.
“Afghanistan was addressed in some detail. Assessments were exchanged on the peace process and the ground situation, as also the concerns and interests of regional powers and neighbours,” sources said.
The India-US conversation comes amid indications that the Biden administration may be pushing back its
withdrawal date from May to November with the US President recently noting that the previous Trump administration had not thought through the plan sufficiently.
While India has been in vited to a UN-organised meeting on Afghanistan to be held in the coming weeks, the US effort to push for an interim government in Kabul with members of the Taliban in it has caused some concern in New Delhi. A meeting in Moscow on March 18 kept India out of the deliberations but a statement issued afterwards asked the Taliban to not launch their spring offensive. Its not yet clear whether the terror group will actually abide by it.
All eyes now will be on the forthcoming meeting between Afghan government representatives and Taliban organised by Turkey, as specified by US secretary of state Anthony Blinken in his letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Haneef Atmar, the Afghan foreign minister, is due to visit India on Monday for talks with the Indian government on the evolving situation in that country. Other senior Aghan leaders have preceded him.

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