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India and Saudi discuss Taliban regime in Afghanistan

Afghan women

In Kabul today, some women have taken to the streets demanding their role in the next government/Image from TOLO news Twitter

Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said that he had a "cordial and productive meeting" with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan. The duo discussed the fears of a repressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan and exchanged views.

Saudi Arabia's top Saudi diplomat had arrived in New Delhi for a two-day visit on Saturday. It is the first high-level visit by a Saudi minister to India since the beginning of the pandemic. S Jaishankar said that the interaction led to a "very useful exchange of views on Afghanistan, the Gulf, and the Indo-Pacific".

Talmiz Ahmad, former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said that both India and Saudi have concerns over whether Afghanistan will become a sanctuary for extremists because then it would become extremely dangerous for the neighbourhood as a whole, reported Arab News.

Soon after the Taliban took over Kabul, the militants had said the new administration would be different from their hard-line Islamist regime and oppression of women from 26 years ago. However, the promises have been hollow, and the Ministry of Women's Affairs was shut down and replaced with the Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

The new Taliban mayor of Kabul further ordered women employees to stay at home, except those whose work could not be done by men, reported Arab News.

He added that it is natural for India and Saudi to discuss Afghanistan as it reflects the close relations established between the nations. "We now have a strategic council at the apex level. Therefore, the relationship that began with cooperation on counterterrorism has now become a very strong and deep strategic partnership," said Ahmad.

A statement by India's foreign ministry said that India and Saudi discussed further steps to strengthen the partnership in trade, investment, energy, defence, security, culture, consular issues, health care, and human resources. About two million Indians are working in the Kingdom and have not been able to return to work due to travel curbs imposed by authorities. S Jaishankar urged an early resumption of direct flights to Saudi Arabia.

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