US Special Envoy Thomas West to visit Delhi as India hosts security dialogue on Afghanistan

New Delhi/Washington, The new US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, who took over from Zalmay Khalilzad, is travelling to Europe and Asia, and is to visit India, coinciding with New Delhi hosting the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan.

“Within my upcoming travels, I do plan to visit Pakistan, Russia and India,” he said at a news briefing.

India is hosting the ‘Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan’ on Wednesday, that will be attended by the top security chiefs of Russia, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Pakistan has declined the invite, while China said it cannot attend due to “scheduling issues.”

West is also travelling to Islamabad to join the Troika Plus meeting on November 11, being convened by Pakistan, that will be attended by the special representatives of the other participating countries, Pakistan, China and Russia.

Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi is travelling to Islamabad to attend the Troika Plus meeting. He will be in Pakistan on Wednesday, November 10, coinciding with the day India will be hosting the Delhi Dialogue on Afghanistan.

In a tweet on Monday, West said: “It is an honor to assume the role of U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan. I look forward to advancing America’s vital interests and supporting the Afghan people.

“I will be traveling to Europe and Asia starting today to discuss the way forward on Afghanistan with Allies and partners. The international community must act together to be effective,” he posted.

Ahead of his first trip abroad in his official capacity, West sat down for talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“Good to sit down with Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West @US4AfghanPeace ahead of his trip to discuss Afghanistan with international stakeholders. The first stop on his travel will be Brussels, where he will consult with Allies and partners,” Blinken posted.

In a chat with reporters on Monday, West said that Washington has no plans to establish diplomatic relations with the Taliban any time soon, but supports their effort to crack down on the Islamic State’s Afghanistan outfit – or the Islamic State-Khorasan, which has been behind some of the recent horrific bombings in Afghanistan, mostly targeting the Shias.

West said the US has an “unwavering commitment to ensuring that Afghanistan never, ever again becomes a launching pad for terrorists to harm us or our allies.”

He said: “When it comes to reopening our embassy in Kabul … we’re not seriously thinking about taking that step at this time.”

Asked about the security situation in Afghanistan vis-a-vis international terrorist groups, West said: “We want the Taliban to succeed against ISIS-K. I think they have a very vigorous effort underway against that group.”

(EW correspondent)