When asked about media reports regarding the helicopter captured by Taliban, MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that it doesn't belong to the IAF

MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday said that the helicopter captured by the Taliban doesn't belong to the Indian Air Force (IAF). Bagchi was addressing an in-person press briefing. He was asked to comment on several media reports which claimed that the Taliban had captured helicopters gifted by India. He completely denied the claims saying, "It is now an internal matter for Afghanistan since it is not an Indian Air Force helicopter. It is now an Afghan helicopter." He also said that India continues to hope that there will be an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban.

India on Thursday joined a regional conclave hosted by Qatar to discuss ways to contain the escalating situation in Afghanistan in the backdrop of the Taliban's continued offensive across the country.

Speaking at the first in-person press briefing since last March, the MEA spokesperson on Thursday said that India is supporting all peace initiatives of Afghanistan and the primary concern is peace and stability in that country.

"It is of concern. It is a rapidly evolving situation. We continue to hope that there will be an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. We are supporting all peace initiatives of Afghanistan. The primary concern is peace and stability in that country," he said.

Asked about the discussions with the Taliban, Arindam Bagchi said: "We are in touch with all stakeholders, various stakeholders. I would not like to say anything further," he said adding "We want to ceasefire and want peace refund in the region."

He further said: "We had issued an advisory for Indian nationals to leave Afghanistan for India through commercial means. There is no formal evacuation mechanism."

"Separately, our Consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif has withdrawn all India-based personnel earlier this week. This is a temporary measure. Our Consulate there continues to be operational with locally recruited staff," he said further.

While responding to Pakistan's continued support to the Taliban, Bagchi said the international community is well aware of that country's role.

Afghanistan has witnessed a surge in violence as the Taliban has intensified their offensive against civilians and Afghan security forces with the complete pullback of the US and NATO forces just a few weeks away.

India has been engaged with a number of stakeholders and leading powers on the latest developments in Afghanistan. India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process that is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled.