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Taliban welcomed the Indian announcement for Afghanistan in the Union Budget 2023-24, which was presented on Wednesday by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. New Delhi announced a development assistance of Rs 200 crore ($24.3 million) for the country in the budget, which was the same amount announced in last year’s budget as well. 

Taliban’s Suhail Shaheen told WION, “We appreciate development assistance for Afghanistan by India. It will contribute to boosting relations and trust between the two countries.” 

Notably, India has continued its support to Afghanistan for the second year in a row since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, despite not recognising the regime. Taliban took over the country in August 2021. 

New Delhi has several times emphasised the historic links with the Afghan people and also sent consignments of wheat, vaccines and humanitarian support to the country. 

In the Indian Union budget presented in the Parliament on Wednesday, the development partnership portfolio got 32.40% of the total budget for the Ministry of External Affairs. The largest share of India’s aid portfolio is towards Bhutan of Rs 2400 crore, which is around 41.04% of MEA’s development assistance. MEA has been allocated Rs 18,050 crore in this year’s budget, which is 4.64% higher than last year. 

Shaheen noted, “There were various projects in Afghanistan which were being funded by India. If India resumes work on these projects, it will contribute to boosting relations between the two countries and eliminating distrust.” India has taken responsibility for building the Afghan parliament and the India-Afghanistan friendship dam in Herat province. 

Shaheen, who once was part of the Taliban’s negotiating team for the intra-Afghan talks, said, “The people of Afghanistan are currently facing poverty and unemployment and need reconstruction and development projects more than ever.” 

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