After India held the first NSA-level Afghanistan conference in New Delhi on November 10, the Taliban said India was an important country in the region, and that they wanted to maintain good diplomatic ties with the neighbouring country.

The Taliban, however, were not present for the Afghan meet in Delhi. But Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said the conference was in the “better interest” of Afghanistan. He also assured that it was the policy of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan that its land will not be used against any country.

Mujahid said, “This conference is in the better interest of Afghanistan… Participating countries must be thoughtful of improving and safeguarding security in Afghanistan and helping the current government to ensure security.”

He added, “We are optimistic, because the whole region needs stability and security in Afghanistan… the meetings that are going to happen pave the way to understanding, and they are hopefully in the benefit of Afghanistan.”

Diplomats and security analysts from neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, except China and Pakistan, had gathered in Delhi for the conference to discuss how to engage with the new Taliban government. Convened less than three months after the withdrawal of the last US and western forces from Kabul, the Delhi Regional Security Dialogue for Afghanistan was attended by representatives from India, Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

“We all have been keenly watching the developments in that country. These have important implications not only for the people of Afghanistan, but also for its neighbours and the region,” said national security adviser Ajit Doval.

Responding to the conference, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen, too, had said the dialogue was a positive development. Speaking to CNN-News18, Shaheen said Afghanistan agreed with the key point of the NSA meet — the need for unhindered access to humanitarian assistance to Afghans.

International donors in recent weeks have pledged more than $1.1 billion to help Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghans are fleeing the country daily to escape the poverty and hunger that has worsened since the Taliban took over.

“If they (NSAs) have said they will work for the people of Afghanistan for the reconstruction, peace and stability of the country… that is our objective. The people of Afghanistan want peace and stability because they have suffered a lot in the last few years. Right now, we want the economic projects in the country to complete and new projects to start. We also want job opportunities for our people. So we agree with what has been said (at the NSA-level meeting),” he said.

Shaheen had also reiterated the Taliban’s policy under the Doha Agreement that the military group would not allow any individual, entity or group to use the soil of Afghanistan against another country. The spokesperson had also said the Taliban would be interested in taking part in such meetings in future if invited.

Both Pakistan and China stayed away from the meeting in New Delhi, with China claiming a schedule clash, and Pakistan boycotting the conference, with national security adviser Moeed Yusuf accusing India last week of being a “spoiler” in the region.

India held its first formal meeting with Taliban officials last month in Qatar, and several of the other governments represented at the conference have also met with Afghanistan’s new leaders. Independent security experts and former Indian diplomats who have served in Afghanistan in recent years say engagement with the Taliban is needed to counter the influence of rivals Pakistan and China.

It was unclear whether India had invited the Taliban to attend the conference in New Delhi.