Foreign Secretary meets Afghan Prez Ashraf Ghani in Kabul ahead of US, Taliban peace deal

A day ahead of the signing of a peace pact between the US and Taliban in Doha, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday met with President Ashraf Ghani and other political leaders of Kabul.

During his meeting with Ghani, Shringla handed over a congratulatory letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Afghan leader’s victory in the presidential election. The President appreciated India’s consistent support for democracy and constitutional order in Afghanistan.

The US and the Taliban are set to sign a peace deal at a ceremony in Doha on Saturday which will provide for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan nearly 18 years after their deployment in the country.

Besides Ghani, Shringla also met Afghanistan CEO Abdullah Abdullah, first Vice President-elect Amrullah Saleh and NSA Hamdullah Mohib. Shringla reached Afghanistan on Friday on his maiden trip abroad as foreign secretary.

During the meetings, Shringla reiterated India’s support for Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process which results in enduring and inclusive peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

“Foreign Secretary @HarshShringla called on President @AshrafGhani and handed over a congratulatory letter from PM @narendramodi. President appreciated India’s consistent support for democracy and constitutional order in Afghanistan,” tweeted External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

“India stands with Afghanistan for strengthening national unity, territorial integrity, democracy, plurality and prosperity in the country and bringing an end to externally sponsored terrorism,” he added.

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The meetings come ahead of the US-Taliban deal, which has been under negotiation for almost 18 months between the two sides and is expected to be signed in Doha on Saturday.

On the same day, the US and Afghanistan are expected to issue a joint declaration to emphasise American commitments to the war-torn country.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will witness the ceremony and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg are expected to be in Kabul for the announcement of the declaration in the weekend.

(With inputs from ANI)

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