Signalling a strong convergence on China and a preparedness to keep Indian concerns over Afghanistan in mind, US deputy secretary Wendy Sherman said Taliban needs to provide an inclusive government while Beijing should follow global rules.
In a sign that the US has taken on board India’s security concerns after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and giving a hint of the next steps US may take in the war-ravaged country, Sherman said in New Delhi, “We will always have India’s security front and centre in our considerations of how the United States proceeds.” In one of the clearest enunciations of US policy towards China, Sherman told journalists that the US would compete, challenge and cooperate with China in various fields. “We have a very complex relationship with China. And it falls into three pathways. One is, we know that China will be a major competitor with the US in economics, emerging tech and in the future. We are happy to compete with China, as long as there is a level playing field... Let’s make sure that everybody’s living by the rules of the road.”
Sherman held discussions with foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and also called on NSA Ajit Doval. Later in the evening, she called on foreign minister S. Jaishankar. Meeting journalists after her discussions with Shringla, Sherman said, the Taliban “must create an inclusive government, ensure that Afghanistan not be a safe haven for terrorists, allow the safe travel of people who wish to relocate and subscribe to human rights, including the rights of women, girls and minorities.” She said the US and India were “on the same page” regarding Afghanistan and the demand for unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance. “We must help the Afghan people that they are suffering terribly, that many children go without food, and certainly education and health care. And so we support humanitarian assistance that is operated through NGOs, or through UN organizations. We do not believe that now’s the time to provide money directly to the Taliban or to the interim government. The United States issued a general license from our Treasury Department, so that any country providing humanitarian assistance, truly purely humanitarian assistance, would not be sanctioned by the US government,” she said.
“The President believed... after 20 years, we needed to step aside and make sure that we took our resources and use them in different ways in terms of our military. But he did not in any way withdraw from our interest in the security of this region, in the security of India, and of making sure that terrorism does not grow in any part of the world,” she added. On the possibility of CAATSA sanctions on India when it takes delivery of the S-400 missile system from Russia later this year, Sherman said, “We’ve been quite public about any country that decides to use the S-400. We think that is dangerous and not in anybody’s security interest.”