Wed, 22 Sep 2021

New Delhi [India], July 28 (ANI): Even as the US withdrew its forces from Afghanistan, they will remain engaged in Afghanistan, said Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State on Wednesday.

"We have not only a strong embassy there but also have important programmes that support the country economically through development and security assistance," Blinken said at the end of talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar in New Delhi.

The top US diplomat was responding to a question on Afghanistan as US troops pull out and the Taliban invade the cities amid concerns of deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan and fighting between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

"We are very much engaged in the diplomacy of working to bring parties together at the table for the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan," added the US State Secretary.

The timing of Blinken's remarks is significant. On Tuesday, frontline Taliban leader Mullah Baradar Akhund met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to seek the support of Beijing in expanding its footprint in Afghanistan.

"The Taliban says that it seeks international recognition, that it wants international support for Afghanistan, presumably, it wants its leaders to travel freely in the world and sanctions lifted, etc," Blinken said, adding that violence is not the path to achieve their objective.

"Taking over the country by force and abusing the rights of the people is not the path to achieve those objectives. There is only one path and that is at the negotiation table to resolve the conflict peacefully," he said.

Taliban have intensified their offensive against civilians, Afghan defence and security forces as foreign troops are withdrawing from the war-torn country. Over the last few weeks, they captured several districts in Afghanistan including Takhar, the country's northeastern province. The extremist group issued diktats like ordering women to not leave home alone and men to grow their beards.

"The Taliban is making advances in district centres, there are reports of them committing atrocities in Afghanistan. It's deeply troubling. It certainly doesn't speak well about their intention for the country. We remain engaged in Afghanistan," Blinken said.

Underlining the importance of peace negotiations in Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in a joint press conference with Blinken, spoke against the unilateral "imposition of will" in the war-torn country while calling for preserving the gains made over the past two decades. (ANI)

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