Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal held talks with Sher Mohammed Stanekzai on Tuesday, head of the Political Office of the Taliban based in Doha, the first officially confirmed meeting with the Taliban, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a press release.
The meeting was held in the Embassy of India in Doha.
The MEA also said the two sides discussed the safety of Indians left behind in Afghanistan, and India conveyed her fears that anti-India militants could use Afghanistan’s soil to mount attacks.
“The Taliban representative assured the ambassador that these issues would be positively addressed,” the foreign ministry said.
The talks come days after Stanekzai was quoted in the local press as saying that the Taliban wanted political and economic ties with India.
India had remained silent to the overture initially but held the meeting hours after the U.S. completed the military evacuation from Kabul.
India has maintained that it has maintained contact with “all stakeholders” but this is the first time that the meeting has been confirmed and announced.
There was no immediate comment from the Taliban on the talks with the Indians.
Mr. Stanekzai, an ethnic Pashtun trained in an Indian military academy as an officer of the Afghan army during the Cold War years, issued a statement three days ago seeking normal commercial, diplomatic and political relation with India.
When the Taliban were last in power from 1996-2001, India along with Russia and Iran supported the Northern Alliance that pursued armed resistance against them.
India also invested more than $3 billion in development work in Afghanistan and had built close ties with the U.S.-backed Kabul government.
But with the rapid advance of the Taliban, the Indian government was facing criticism at home for not opening a channel of communication to the militants.