Taliban leaders discuss TAPI gas pipeline, mining projects

TAPI gas pipeline project was once of crucial interest to India in securing substantial gas supplies through the land route

Taliban leaders discuss TAPI gas pipeline, mining projects

Photo for representation purposes. Reuters

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 1

The Taliban has called for talks with all countries and has held a detailed meeting with Turkmenistan on reviving the TAPI gas pipeline project which was once of crucial interest to India in securing substantial gas supplies through the land route.

“The IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) wants good relations with countries of the world. If anyone has an issue with us, we are ready to resolve it through talks and understanding,” said the Taliban’s Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Biradar in a statement on Friday.

Seeking to address global anxieties on Afghanistan becoming a crucible for radical extremism, Baradar said, “We neither intend nor have the policy to harm others.”

A day earlier, Foreign Minister Maulvi Amir Khan Muttaqi replied to concerns of a Pashtun-dominated government by assuring them that the Taliban wanted to “open a new political chapter in good governance at home and in regional and global relations”. He was addressing mostly ambassadors in Kabul at a luncheon.

The Taliban has inducted no woman but three traders from Uzbek, Hazara and Tajik (Panjshir) ethnicities as deputy ministers in a cabinet expansion. The world largely saw the Taliban’s signal of inclusiveness as inadequate.

In a reference to its claims to be Afghanistan’s legitimate government, Muttaqi said, “The Kabul Administration exists no more and IEA has all components of a government.”

The Taliban has already applied to the UN for the nomination of its representative as the Afghan Permanent Representative at New York.

So far, only a small group of countries and UN aid organisations have interacted with the Taliban. These include the Ambassador of Turkmenistan in Kabul Hoja Ofzov with whom Muttaqi discussed TAPI projects in detail, said Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen.

Significantly for India, which is interested in Afghanistan’s mineral deposits, the Taliban have highlighted its meetings with traders and industrialists associated with the mining sector. The previous regime had allocated three iron ore mines in Bamyan district to a SAIL-led consortium while China was allocated a copper mine near Kabul. China has hosted Taliban leaders in Beijing and its Ambassador in Kabul Wang Yu frequently interacts with the top leadership.

 

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